24 April 2020 – The phased or risk-adjusted approach to lift the current national lockdown is welcome news for the agricultural sector, especially those industries mostly affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. As from 1 May, all agricultural activities can resume as normal, including industries such as the wine-industry (although the sale of alcohol will still be prohibited). The wine industry will therefore be able to produce and make wine but probably will need to store or export the produce.
Forestry will also be able to resume production as normal. It is important to note that the levels may vary between provinces and municipal districts, which may affect agriculture again, thus producers need to stay informed of what is going on. The interpretation of the regulations is somewhat ambiguous in the different provinces and this led to unhappiness in the red meat industry when auctions for example in the Free State were stopped and prohibited. Moving to Level 4 will hopefully sort out these challenges.
Other industries that will resume activity will be mining as well as all financial and professional services. This will also be positive news for agriculture in the sense that the deeds office will most probably resume activities and hence financial transactions, such as farm purchases, can resume.
Although most measures on Level 4 will be similar to Level 5 lockdown, the risk adjusted approach for lifting the lockdown is the most appropriate one to prevent another hard lockdown for the country. The South African economy will not be able to withstand another Level 5 lockdown. It is therefore imperative that we all adhere to the restrictions set out for as long as possible to protect ourselves and our economy.
By Dawie Maree, Head of Information and Marketing at FNB Agriculture