Communication from AFGRI Group Holdings during the lockdown period

Dear valued client

South Africa will go into a national lockdown on Friday, 27 March 2020 (immediately after midnight on Thursday) to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The shutdown will last for 21 days (“the lockdown period”).

During that time, all businesses and services must shut down other than a list of exempted businesses that are considered critical to supporting the health and safety of South Africans (“exempted businesses and services”).

The exempted business and services include:

• Agricultural and food supply related operations, farming, veterinary and phytosanitary provider services, pest control services, and chemical and fertilizer providers.
• Food, beverages and essential products manufacturing and processing facilities.
• Warehousing, transport and logistics for food and essential products, and health-related goods.
• Ports, and road and rail networks will remain open in order to facilitate the import and export of essential products.
• Food outlets – retail, wholesale, spaza shops and malls for food and essential products.
• Critical banking and financial services.

Although we await the detailed regulations to be published in terms of the Disaster Management Act, it is clear that the entire agro-food value chain is considered an essential industry, and forms part of the Exempted Business and Services.

AFGRI Group Holdings, including its subsidiaries, forms part of the agro-food value chain.

Accordingly, the following businesses and services in the Group will continue operating during the lockdown period:
1. All grain silos and bunkers
2. All AFGRI Equipment branches and services
3. All UNIGRO financial services, including e-accounts;
4. All food processing and manufacturing facilities, including AFGRI Animal Feeds and AFGRI Milling
5. Hinterland (AFGRI Town and Country) retail branches

Our employees will be allowed to travel to provide these services to you.

We will continue to act lawfully and responsibly in accordance with the Disaster Management Act and its regulations and if anything changes we will contact you. Employees who are not deemed essential to be in the office or their normal place of work, will work from home. However, whether they work from home or from their normal workplace, they will continue to be contactable and provide you with the same services and products you are accustomed to.

Our clients’ and employees’ health and safety are paramount. It is also, however, important to appreciate the fact that the AFGRI Group of companies, our employees and our clients form part of the agro-food sector, which has rightfully been recognised as essential to the country fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a privilege, but also a huge responsibility.

Lastly, we wish to ensure you that the Group has the operational plans and human resources necessary to support you, our valued client, in these trying times.

We will continue to keep you updated with regards to any developments, including on our social media channels and our website.

Tinus Prinsloo
Acting Group CEO

A Message to the Agriculture and Food Sector of South Africa

Speaking notes by Ms. Thoko Didiza, MP Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development


A Message to the Agriculture and Food Sector of South Africa
24 March 2020


As you may be aware, that last night the President announced measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which include a 21-day lockdown.

Several businesses will be affected, but the agriculture and food supply sector is one of essential systems for livelihood and therefore will remain operational. Our food supply system will remain functional during this period. Agricultural production in all its forms will remain uncompromised. This includes all services including provision of veterinary and advisory services. Live auctions of livestock and sale of other agricultural commodities will continue but under the strict conditions a prescribed by the President. Exports and imports of critical agriculture commodities and the logistical measures will continue during this lock down period to ensure global and national food security.

This is not only limited to retailers but the entire food value chain, from farm-related operations, agro-processing and food manufacturing, logistics and related services, wholesale and retail services, and all support functions that ensure efficient delivery of the agro-food system.

As a nation, we boast for being self-sufficient in food production, and a part of this year’s supply is yet to be harvested – which promises to be a bumper field crop and citrus harvest – and these processes will continue as normal as a foundation of South Africa’s food system. I will be making regular updates on crop estimates to inform the country of our critical commodity supply. To ensure that we do not have inflated prices in the sector. Food price monitoring will be conducted on critical food basket commodities and reports will be given to the nation on regular bases.

The Department has set aside a package of R1.2 billion to address effects of the corona virus and ensure sustainable food production post the pandemic. The Department soon will make the details of this package together with the application channels available. The Department has also availed R100 million to the Land Bank to assist farmers under distress.

Together with the industry we are working on a sector operational procedures that would ensure adherence to the measures announced by the President this includes the provision of sanitation to employees within the sector especially farm workers.

We urge the food value chain role players to strictly comply and adhere to strict health regulations to contain and arrest COVID-19 as we strive to supply food to the nation.

I appeal to the public not to embark on panic buying, as the President has indicated. The country has sufficient food supplies. Panic buying will only cause disruptions and inconvenience in the food system. I urge you, fellow-citizens, to also be considerate and purchase that which is sufficient for your needs.

To wholesalers and retailers, we urge you not to engage in price gouging, at such a crucial time for the country. You have an important role to play in the supply of food, and the fight against COVID-19. We ask that you continue to serve the nation and help ensure food security at this critical juncture.