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The impact of Covid-19 on South Africa’s agriculture economy

Screen Shot 2020-06-02 at 6.15.09 PM

Photo credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service

Dr Peter Oberem, Bizcommunity

We are all living through something the severity of which we have never experienced before and are currently in the 64rth day of lockdown. There have, of course, been pandemics before.

The plague or Black Death of the mid-1300s resulted in between 75 and 200 million human deaths, while 100 million people perished due to the Spanish flu in 1918/19. In the late 1950s, Asian flu (H2N2) infected more than a million people, resulting in approximately 116,000 deaths, and in 2009/10 a strain of H1N1 infected 1,4 billion people and killed around 50 million.

Agriculture has been declared a critical industry and as such is exempt from the harshest lockdown regulations. However, job losses in the agriculture sector will be an unintended consequence of lockdown. In South Africa, this will be a major spoke in the wheel of government’s ambition to increase employment in agriculture and agro-processing by a million jobs by 2030.
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