• May 5, 2020

China – Coronavirus Supply Chain Challenges

Posted By: Harvest Chemicals

This nasty little virus took many of us by surprise and its impact much more severe than anticipated. Harvest Chemicals placed some orders during December 2019 for shipment end of February 2020, just after the Chinese New Year (CNY).  Covid-19 cases in China started an upward trajectory mid-January and by the time CNY arrived at the end of January, Chinese lockdown was in full swing.  CNY was extended again and China virtually closed down.
  • There were no shipments at the end of February 2020 and suddenly worst case scenario took root.
China is a particularly resilient society and apart from Wuhan in Hubei Province where this all started, lockdown started easing.  To the surprise of most people the odd shipment resumed from early March.  Anticipating supply chain disruptions I started adding a further 30 days to stock required dates.  By end of March, just in time for the South African lockdown, Chinese supply was virtually normalised. Not so with South African lockdown.  Many ports or South African borders were closed with the lockdown.  There was chaos at the main ports receiving our agricultural chemicals, namely Durban and Cape Town.  These chemicals were luckily deemed essential for the agricultural industry so fortunately these imports were prioritised.  Priority with the chaos meant our container were cleared, but at a much slower pace. Once cleared, more problems lurked in the shady corners.  Lockdown had basically destroyed internal transport and delivery of goods, and again only essential goods could be transported.  All well and good but transporters would not move unless their vehicles were full, and because only essential goods could move it become more and more difficult to fill loads.
  • The nett effect of this was delivery delays were generally 1 – 2 weeks.
I am writing this on 5 May 2020, day 5 of level 4 lockdown.  Deliveries are slightly smoother and with level 3 hopefully not too far off, and the loosening up of courier services and general cargo movements, I think most of these chinks will be ironed out of the agricultural chemical supply chain. If we do not regress back to level 4 or 5, normality will generally return.   Trevor Wimbush CEO Harvest Chemicals Hon BSc (Chemistry)

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