Mpumalanga farmers to receive relief vouchers amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Farmers in Mpumalanga that are making a turnover of between R20 000 and R1 million will receive vouchers not exceeding R50 000 to alleviate the impact of COVID-19. MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs in Mpumalanga Vusi Shongwe announced the relief measures during a meeting with farmers associations in Ermelo.

The farmers raised concerns that include failure to pay labourers, transporting produce, not having permits and accessing markets during the 21-day lockdown. They say some farmers have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Farmers’ associations also pleaded with the government to assist them with protective clothing in order to adhere with the new regulations.

AgriSA Provincial coordinator Jerry Mthombothi says the situation has left some farmers vulnerable.

“The farmers are facing a big problem because if the workers are not working, they are not supposed to get paid. So these people will have a big problem in supporting their families and farmers are not able to take their produce to the market if the laborers are not working”.

While most in the farming industry are counting losses, the macadamia sector has been spared.

Macadamia South Africa’s Zafezeka Zikhali says the sector had just finished their harvesting season. “Luckily for us, we have not been impacted by the COVID-19 because we have just finished our harvesting season.”

MEC Shongwe warned that farmers violating the new regulations will face the might of the law.

“I have started in our own farms as government. I went to other farms in the province just to observe the compliance part of it and I can say am relatively happy on that.”

Forms to apply for the government COVID-19 relief fund can be obtained at municipal offices, Department of Agriculture and farmers organisations. The national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has made R1.2 billion available to support farmers.

In the video below, AgriSA’s Andrea Camphe talks about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on agriculture: