NERPO calls for the inclusion of the ‘missing middle farmers’ in the distribution of Covid 19 relief fund

Source: Nerpo media release, 17 June 2020, photo credit: Humana People to People

The National Emergent Redmeat Producers Organisation (NERPO) has expressed concern about the failure of the government to effectively address the plight of the small business in South Africa, particularly, the smallholder livestock farmers.

This followed the numerous unsuccessful attempts to apply for the Covid 19 relief funds, which was introduced by President Ramaphosa on the 23 of April 2020, during the announcement of the initial 21 days lockdown.

South Africans have been donating time and money to fight against the pandemic and this includes pledges of a billion rand or more from a number of prominent business families and companies to help SMMEs

Aggrey Mahanjana, the Group Managing Director of NERPO has compared the treatment of the SMMEs to the popular concept of a missing middle student in the educational sector. Missing middle are those students that are too poor to afford universities, but also not poor enough to qualify government funding.

“We were extremely excited when the government introduced all the necessary intervention to support the small businesses, especially within the farming sector, through Covid 19 Relief Fund, as well as the Covid 19 Agricultural Disaster Support Fund. However, we were disappointed and shocked that we did not qualify either of the two relief funds simply because we are a missing middle farmer. In one of the Relief Funds the threshold is low, meanwhile, the other relief fund, the threshold is higher.”

“Our farmers feel that the government is paying the lip service to the plight of the poor in South Africa. An urgent NERPO general council meeting is going to take place within 2 weeks to deliberate on these pressing issues,” he concluded.

The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) coordinates industry interventions and collaboratively manages risks in the value chain to enable the sustainability and profitability of pork producers in South Africa.