Agriculture, when comparing to the devastation expected in the economy due to an over robust lockdown approach, is in a very good space.
In my opinion the biggest impact will be climatic – if we have a good rainy season agriculture could quite well grow and be possibly the only sector to increase employment.
With the rand tanking with levels consistently over R18 to the dollar, although there has been some claw back to mid R17 levels, all agricultural produce and fruit exporters have had bumper revenue returns. Demand in international markets are holding strong.
Based on initial Government regulations the Covid-19 rules were:
- If a pack house had a single infection the pack house was to close and quarantine for 14 days with deep cleansing, or
- If one of the picking team succumbed, picking to stop for 14 days and like the pack house a 14-day quarantine.
This basically locked down entire farms with no one entering or leaving bar the supply of essentials and produce movements.
- No salesmen allowed near and Consultants holding virtual meetings via WhatsApp or Zoom.
With Level 3 scheduled for 1 June 2020 and a spike in transmissions expected, it seems likely the above will be relaxed somewhat.
Agriculture was deemed an essential industry and so too the service industries to agriculture, like agrochemicals were similarly rated. Where the problems came in, and this applied to all imported agricultural products like equipment and fertilisers, due to Covid-19 being a world-wide problem, supply chains were tested and delays crept into the system.
Problems did not end here. Once the goods arrived at port ships were delayed by two weeks sometimes from entering. Once in port, non-essential goods containers were stacked in every conceivable shed or space again leading to congestion and delays.
With all the above in mind it is my view that provided the rains come, agriculture will be in a good space. Challenges will be supplying goods and services on time.
CEO Harvest Chemicals
Hon BSc (Chemistry)