SONA 2021: Will agriculture get the thanks they deserve?

AGRI WES-KAAP SE VERWAGTINGE VAN DIE STAATSREDE
10 Feb 2021
Agri Wes-Kaap sal graag in dié week se staatsrede wil hoor dat president Cyril Ramaphosa elke produsent en plaaswerker in die land bedank vir wat hulle tydens die Covid-19 nasionale inperking gedoen het.

Mnr Jannie Strydom, uitvoerende hoof van Agri Wes-Kaap, sê dit is ‘n wanpersepsie dat landbou nie tydens die inperking skade gely het nie omdat die sektor as ‘n essensiële diens verklaar is en met produksie kon voortgaan.
Hy sê die landbousektor het vanaf die aankondiging van die nasionale inperking tot die inwerktreding daavan minder as ‘n week gehad om aan alle maatreëls te voldoen. Die sektor was aan uiters streng regulasies onderwerp en boere en plaaswerkers moes veral tydens vlak 5 en 4 van die inperking in moeilike omstandighede onder groot druk werk.

Sekere regulasies, veral die wat verband gehou het met die vervoer van plaaswerkerks, het ‘n enorme finansiële impak op landbouers gehad terwyl talle bedrywe, waaronder die wol-, sybokhaar- en blommebedryf ook groot finansiële verliese gely het toe hulle tydens inperkingsvlak 5 verbied is om sake te doen. Die wynbedryf was sedert die begin van die inperking drie keer aan ‘n verbod onderwerp wat alkoholverkope verbied het en het reeds miljarde Rande se skade en werksverliese gely.

Die enigste sekerheid tydens die inperking was dat die winkelrakke vol kos sou bly en produsente en plaaswerkers verdien krediet dat hulle dit midde van baie moeilike omstandighede kon doen. Agri Wes-Kaap sal graag wil hoor watter hulp die regering aan die landbousektor gaan beskikbaar maak, veral aan bedrywe wat negatief deur Covid-regulasies beinvloed is.

Mnr Strydom sê met ‘n derde golf van infeksies ‘n groot moontlikheid, sal Agri Wes-Kaap ook wil hoor dat mnr Ramaphosa erken dat landbou die sektor met die grootste vermenigvuldigingsfaktor is en dat regulasies in die toekoms baie deegliker oordink sal word en gedifferensieerde benaderings gevolg sal word om verdere skade aan die sektor te beperk.

Hy sê die volhoubaarheid van die sektor as hoeksteen van die land se ekonomie behoort die regering se eerste prioriteit te wees en dat president Ramaphosa se Staatsrede ook duidelik moet uitstippel wat hul plan met die Land Bank is. Hy sê ter wille van groei en plaaslike en internasionale investering vra Agri Wes-Kaap steeds vir beleidsekerheid, veral met betrekking tot die regering se planne met onteiening sonder vergoeding. Mnr Strydom sê die verval van landelike infrastruktuur moet ook dringend aandag in die staatsrede én die komende begrotingsrede kry. Hy sê die swak toestand van paaie en kommuniksie-infrastruktuur het ‘n direkte invloed op landbou-aktiwiteite wat afhanklik van ordentlike infrastruktuur en instandhouding is.

AGRI WESTERN CAPE’S EXPECTATIONS OF THE SONA
10 Feb 2021
During this week’s State Of The Nation Address, Agri Western Cape would like to hear President Cyril Ramaphosa thank every producer and farm worker in the country for what they have done during the Covid-19 national lockdown.

Mr Jannie Strydom, CEO of Agri Western Cape, says it is a misperception that agriculture did not suffer damage during the pandemic because the sector was declared an essential service and could continue with production. He says from the announcement of the national lockdown until it was enforced, the agricultural sector has had less than a week to comply with all measures. The sector was subject to extremely strict regulations and farmers and farm workers had to work under enormous pressure in difficult conditions, especially during levels 5 and 4 of the lockdown.

Certain regulations, especially relating to the transport of farm workers, had a huge financial impact on farmers while many industries, including the wool, mohair and flower industries suffered big financial losses when they were prohibited by regulations from doing business during level 5. The wine industry has been subject to three bans on alcohol sales since the beginning of the lockdown and has already suffered billions of Rands in damage and job losses.

The only certainty during the lockdown was that the store shelves would remain full of food and producers and farm workers deserve credit for being able to do so in the midst of very difficult circumstances. Agri Western Cape would like to hear what assistance the government will make available to the agricultural sector, especially to industries that have been negatively affected by Covid regulations.

Mr Strydom says with a third wave of infections a real possibility, Agri Western Cape also wants to hear that Mr Ramaphosa recognizes that agriculture is the sector with the largest multiplication factor and that government will consider future regulations much more thoroughly and follow a differentiated approach to limit any more damage to the sector. He says the sustainability of the sector as the corner stone of the economy should be the government’s first priority and that President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address should clearly outline what their plan is with the Land Bank.

He says that for the sake of growth and local and international investment, Agri Western Cape continues to call for policy certainty, especially with regard to the government’s plans for expropriation without compensation. Mr Strydom says the deterioration of rural infrastructure must also receive urgent attention in the state of the nation address and the forthcoming budget speech. He says the poor condition of roads and communication infrastructure has a direct impact on agricultural activities that depend on proper infrastructure and maintenance.

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