Closure of Tshwane Fresh Produce market due to Covid-19 a serious blow for farmers and traders

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes the temporary closure of the entire Tshwane Fresh Produce Market due to a positive case of Covid-19.

Whilst it is understandable that health and safety protocols must be followed, the DA calls on the City to urgently re-assess their pandemic response for the market. If the entire market is shut down every time a case of Covid-19 is confirmed, it will have devastating consequences for producers and traders to the tune of up to R28 million a day. Farmers were turned away with virtually no notice and perishable produce was left abandoned on the market floor.

A responsible and caring government will be mindful of the impact of their actions on the thousands of daily users of the market. It is not always possible or affordable to simply deliver at another market, especially for small and emerging producers. A better approach would be to close off affected sections and to implement pro-active systems of communication with clients

In a previous reply to written questions about the serious neglect of fresh produce markets in the province, the Department of Agriculture flippantly responded that markets fall under the management of each municipality. This response is simply not good enough, as the provincial government is well aware of the dire straits that the pandemic has wrought on local governments.

The DA will be tabling further questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to ascertain what measures have been put in place to assist farmers who may be affected by the closure of the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market.

In addition, we will also be asking the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development what assistance her department can offer to markets in terms of a responsible, effective and standardised approach that can be implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 at all fresh produce markets in the province.

Food insecurity at household level in Gauteng is already on the increase as a result of the unreasonable lockdown. We therefore need local and provincial authorities to be mindful in their policy responses and to ensure that farmers and traders are able to deliver food at all times