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Agri Sector reacts to the unrest

As the unrest dust settles, the agricultural sector is counting the losses with the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) leading the warning.

The association feared that the unrests had destabilised progress on the poultry master plan blocking opportunities for emerging farmers.

“The poultry industry, under the sector master plan, has been working tirelessly to create jobs in an environment of growing unemployment, and transforming the industry to open up opportunities for more emerging farmers to own businesses and farms. It has invested in excess of R1 billion to make this a reality” said its General Manager Izaak Breitenbach.

For the poultry industry, Breitenbach viewed these unrests in KZN as not only causing jobs losses but disrupting animal feed being transported to farms. He warned the situation could escalate to ‘massive animal welfare issues’ with day old poultry stock being at risk of euthanised.

The Agriculture Business Chamber (AgbIZ)said it was concerned about the brazen looting, vandalism, arson and intimidation sweeping KZN. The body called on government to institute an enquiry into the root causes of this violence.

“Most important is for government to stabilize the security situation in especially KwaZulu-Natal, to open the major access routes, especially the N3, re-open the Port of Durban, secure the return of public transport and ensure fuel availability and supply” it said in a statement.

Food retailers were mostly affected in this chaos. Shoprite Holdings Group earlier confirmed that most of its stores were affected but however calmed fears on talk of food shortage supplies.

“Supply lines to the majority of stores are currently running smoothly and deliveries to stores in KZN has commenced” with the bulk of its franchises stocked and operational.

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza earlier met with various stakeholders in the Agricultural and Food sector, to discuss issues related to food access problems, logistics around transportation to KwaZulu-Natal.

A technical steering committee was summarily set-up by the Minister to implement issues discussed of food access challenges.

“I urge our people to be vigilant and protect both government and private infrastructure as it plays a critical role in the production and transportation of food to all citizens. We should also avoid panic buying in other provinces of the country so that the food supply chains can continue functioning, uninterrupted, at an appropriate pace and serve our nation’s food needs” she said.

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