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Covid-19 threat small on mechanised farms

Screen Shot 2020-08-11 at 12.25.34 PM

Source: Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz e-newsletter, 7 August 2020 (the essay first appeared in Business Day, 4 August  2020, photo credit: iStock/beingbonny/Scitech Europa

The SA agricultural sector has thus far successfully harvested summer crops with minimal interruption from the pandemic. However, farmers and agribusinesses had to adjust their usual work processes to comply with health regulations and limit the spread of the virus.

In October the focus will shift to planting activity of 2020/2021 summer grains, oilseeds and various horticulture products. This will happen while the Covid-19 infection numbers are close to their peak, with the Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal the hotspots.

These provinces also account for 60% of SA’s agricultural output, which raises questions about whether the surge in infections could affect the planting season negatively. I doubt this will be the case.Much of the commercial agricultural sector is highly mechanised, so it could operate with a limited number of people during planting.

The period that typically requires increased labour is the harvest, which for summer grains is at completion stage now, with minimal interruption from the pandemic.
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