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South Africa unrest hits farming, threatens food supply

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Following the arrest and jailing of South Africa’s former president Jacob Zouma, massive protests and unrests have been reported in certain regions in the country as dozens have been reported killed and more injured with properties also destroyed.

Farmers and agricultural stakeholders in the country aren’t left out as major roads have been closed off, they have been seriously hit by the unrest, and trucks carrying farm products are being looted and blocked from delivering to markets thereby threatening food supplies.

“Farmers have already had major losses because they cannot get their products to local markets and to shops,” Christo van der Rheede, executive director at the country’s main agricultural body AgriSA, said.

South Africa is known as the second world’s largest exporter of citrus after Spain, but this stance is being threatened following the recent outbursts. Citrus Growers Association Chief Executive Justin Chadwick said citrus exports had been halted, with trucks unable to use the main arterial roads to the Durban port, where more than half of the citrus is exported.

“Farmers have already had major losses because they cannot get their products to local markets and to shops,” Christo van der Rheede, executive director at the country’s main agricultural body AgriSA, said.

All sugar mills in Kwazulu-Natal – the main sugar growing area and one of the provinces hardest hit by the unrest – have closed after cane trucks were hijacked, mills threatened and cane farms set alight, also, Around 300,000 tonnes of cane to date has been burnt. This is roughly 180 million rands of grower revenue,” said South African Canegrowers Chief Executive Thomas Funke.

President Cyril Ramaphosa warned on Monday that the continued unrest is causing a disruption to supply chains which could lead to food and medicine shortages in the coming weeks.

Part of these claims made by the President has started taking effect as consumers were seen on Tuesday in queues at few supermarkets that stayed open in Durban to buy basics. While in some areas where supermarkets are closed, the panic was setting over in food supplies.

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