Olive Harvest in South Africa Proceeds Largely Unhindered

More than half of South Africa’s economy came to a halt as the country entered a 21-day lockdown on March 27 to combat the spread of COVID-19, but olive harvesting —which started about a month ago and will continue until August— will proceed largely unhindered.

Under the country’s lockdown restrictions South Africans are allowed to leave their homes only to buy essential supplies, and to provide essential goods and services. Providers of essential services, such as health care workers and farmers, need permits to leave their homes or to travel while performing their duties.

Three days before the country entered a lockdown, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza assured the agricultural sector that ​“agricultural production in all its forms will remain uncompromised.”

In her message to the country’s agriculture and food sector, the minister urged role players to strictly comply and adhere to strict health regulations to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Together with the industry,” Didiza said, ​“we are working on a sector operational procedures that would ensure adherence to the measures announced by the President. This includes the provision of sanitation to employees within the sector, especially farmworkers.”

Didiza also announced the department has set aside 1.2 billion ZAR (about $65.8 million) for the effects of the coronavirus and to ensure sustainable food production ​“post the pandemic.”

She further stated the department has made 100 million ZAR (about $5.5 million) available to the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa to assist farmers in distress.

In a recent report JPMorgan Chase & Co. forecast that South Africa’s economy will be one of the five country’s economies that will be the most affected by the impact of the coronavirus.

After the country went into lockdown it was dealt two major blows when its credit rating was downgraded to junk status by rating agency Moody’s Investors Service, and when rating agency Fitch downgraded its credit rating from BB+ to BB and assigned it a negative outlook.

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