The major agricultural players in the Eastern Cape, particularly those who export to Italy and China, are watching anxiously to see how the coronavirus pandemic will affect business. Also, the multibillion-rand hunting industry, in particular, is bracing for the impact of international cancellations.
Professional Hunters’ Association of SA president Dries van Coller said it had met government officials on Tuesday afternoon to discuss a way forward: “We are anticipating a massive impact on the industry and tourism in general. We have seen international cancellations already and are advising members to postpone their hunts and engagements until we get clarity. We are bracing for the impact and are putting plans in place to try to mitigate the risk and effects it will have.”
VanColler said the association had received several calls from small business owners who relied on the international hunting trade. “Everyone is very concerned and we are going to be assessing ways to try to mitigate this. It is still early days to predict the exact impact and what the losses will be. We are hoping to get answers soon so the situation can normalise.”
With trade partners such as Italy on lockdown, citrus farmers said it was still too early to tell how they would be affected.
Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo said the horticulture industry, wine and grain faced the possibility of slow demand. He said SA exported about 50% of what it produced and, with the country coming off a good harvest, there could be low demand in Europe and Asia.
“Any disruptions in Asia and Europe could definitely have a negative effect on our side,” Sihlobo said. “The readiness of the domestic food supply chains will perhaps be the ones to be tested in the coming weeks if panic-buying continues. Essentially panic-buying, while understandably caused by the extreme times we live in, could cause more disruptions in the food supply.”