by ANNA NATABANE
MBOMBELA, (Mpumalanga Guardian) – THE Mpumalanga Provincial Government has threatened to raid local farms to root out plantations that are infringing laws which apply to the lockdown initiated to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Vusi Shongwe, the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) issued the warning in Mbombela on Monday as he addressed farmers and unions on safety measures related to transportation of farm workers to ensure maximum safety during the lockdown.
He said the proposed raids followed the realisation that issues of hygiene in farms and among farm owners and workers should not be compromised.
“Farms are largely dealing with food production and we cannot compromise the safety of consumers,” Shongwe said.
Farming is among essential sectors left to operate during the lockdown.
However, farms must operate under strict compliance with safety measures including social distancing and use of safety gear.
Shongwe meanwhile encouraged smallholder and subsistence farmers in communal areas in the province to apply for funding made available by government to alleviate the impact of COVID-19.
Thoko Didiza, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, recently announced the availability of R1,2 billion towards those efforts.
The interventions are meant to support food security during the state of disaster announced recently following the outbreak of COVID-19.
“We therefore call on our farmers to take advantage of this opportunity and apply in numbers,” Shongwe said.
The application for funding will close on Wednesday (April 22).–