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Didiza: Panic Buying May Lead To Unnecessary Food Price Hikes

JOHANNESBURG – Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza has warned South Africans against panic buying, saying this may lead to unnecessary food price hikes.

Speaking at a briefing in Pretoria on Monday, Didiza announced interventions in the agricultural sector to ensure continued food production during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond.

“Together with the industry, the department is monitoring food supply through the agricultural food chain tracker. Where there are challenges experienced, these challenges are escalated for immediate attention to the relevant regulators.”

Last week, the minister announced a R1.2 billion COVID-19 disaster fund in the sector as a response to assist small-scale farmers.

Didiza said applications for those who needed assistance would open on Wednesday.

“Of the R1.2 billion, the department has ring-fenced about R400 million to farmers with the proactive land acquisition strategy programme and the remainder will be channeled towards all the farmers under a criteria.”

Didiza called on small-scale farmers to apply for support funding in order to increase food production during the coronavirus outbreak.

The minister said her department had set aside funding to assist small-scale farmers with a special focus on those in communal areas.

“The small holder and communal farmers with an annual turnover of between R20,000 and R1 million [will benefit from this funding].”

Didiza said only farmers who met certain criteria and who had South African citizenship would be considered for funding.

“[This includes] those who have been farming for a minimum of 12 months, who are currently in production, and must be registered on a farmers’ register or commodity-based organisation…”

Applications will be open from 8 to 22 April.