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Farmers in distress due to COVID-19 given 2 weeks to apply for assistance

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has announced some relief for struggling small-scale farmers in the country in a bid to ensure that food production is not compromised during the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE: Sheep grazing in a field near Swellendam, in the Western Cape. Drought, climate change, economic downturn, security issues in rural areas, and uncertainty about the future of land reform in South Africa, are making agriculture in South Africa an increasingly challenging environment. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has given small-scale famers who are in distress due to the COVID-19 outbreak two weeks to apply for assistance to help boost the country’s food supply.

Didiza has set aside R1.2 billion in funding to help small farmers with a special focus on communal farmers.

On Monday, the minister outlined her department's intervention plan to ensure the country has continued food supply even beyond the pandemic.

Minister Didiza has announced some relief for struggling small-scale farmers in the country in a bid to ensure that food production is not compromised during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We also would like to indicate that those farmers who support must also be applying good farming practices because this is important in order to protect our environment and we maintain our soils for further production."

Didiza has encouraged farmers in traditional areas to also apply.

"We will ensure that we identify and target women, at least 50% of those who have applied, youth 40%, and people with disabilities at 6%."

The minister has once again cautioned South Africans against panic buying, warning that if people continued to buy more than what they need it may lead to food price hikes.

WATCH: Timeline: A month of Coronavirus in SA

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.