EDITORIAL NOTE: This story has been amended. Our earlier story erroneously had a picture of Western Cape provincial Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer, while the caption referred to Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier. The picture has since been changed.

COVID-19 has been the single greatest disruptive force in all sectors of the economy. Agriculture, in the Western Cape, despite bei.ng classified as an essential service, came with major challenges.

Role players in the industry and the provincial government have now outlined what they would like to see in the supplementary budget which Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to announce in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Western Cape is still grappling with the effects of a monumental drought that nearly brought the sector to its knees.

As the largest exporter of agricultural goods, the province relies greatly on the sector as an economic driver.

The wine industry contributes more than R49 billion to the economy per year. However, when COVID-19 hit South African shores, it brought the industry to a standstill.

Farming organisation, Agri Western Cape says it is looking forward to hearing what co-ordinated support the government will be providing to the agriculture sector to deal with COVID-19.

The organisation says compliance with COVID-19 regulations has proven to be a huge expense for farming producers.

Agri Western Cape Chief Executive Officer, Jannie Strydom, says the pandemic had an extremely negative impact on some parts of the agricultural industry which were not allowed to operate under Level 5 of the lockdown.

He says they hope the government will also allocate funding for rural safety for farmers and farmworkers.

“Agri Western Cape wants to see substantial funding towards rural safety to ensure a safe environment for farmers and farm workers taking care of the country’s food security. The maintenance and investment in infrastructure also remain critical issues and projects that have been lagging for years like increasing the Clanwilliam Dam will need to be expedited,” says Agri Western Cape CEO, Jannie Strydom.

Fight against COVID-19 in Western Cape

The Western Cape Department of Economic Opportunities says it hopes Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s special adjustment budget will provide clarity on the scale of the national government’s financial support for the province’s fight against COVID-19.

It says the provincial government has already committed R1.65 billion towards COVID-19 related expenditure in the Western Cape.

Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, says the province still requires substantial financial support from the national government.

“We have made a huge effort to reprioritise expenditure, within the existing budget, to support the fight against COVID-19 in the Western Cape. However, despite significant reprioritisation, and commitment of reserves, financial support from national government will be required to support the fight against COVID-19 in the Western Cape.”

Mboweni is expected to deliver the special supplementary budget speech at 3pm on Wednesday via the government’s online platforms.

Wits Economist, Lumka Mondi expects Minister Tito Mboweni to announce massive reforms:

CORRECTION: Please note the image in this story has been changed.