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Essential agricultural products back in stock |14 September 2022

  • Department of Agriculture takes numerous measures towards consistent supply

 

The department of Agriculture has taken a series of decisions towards ensuring the consistent supply of agricultural products at an affordable price to local farmers, striking South Africa off the list of countries from which it sources products.

Following weeks of shortages on the local market on account of shipping disruptions and the ongoing war, the department successfully managed to import three consignment of products – one by ship and two special consignments by air, to ensure adequate supply of products on the store.

According to the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change & Environment, Flavien Joubert, a load of pesticides arrived by air freight three weeks ago, and is available to all registered farmers from the agricultural stores.

This was followed by a consignment of essentials, namely, fertilisers, pesticides, and shade cloths, via sea freight from South Africa. The consignment was due to leave South Africa since June, but has been held up for reasons beyond the authority’s control. As a result of the delays, the department has also had to dish out more funds than originally intended, for safe storage of the consignment. These products are expected to be delivered to the main store, Grand Anse Mahé, during the week and will be distributed to others once all administrative processes are completed.

A third consignment of NPK fertilisers from Germany arrived in the country last week by sea freight and is undergoing the clearance process.

A fourth consignment of fertilisers acquired from a local supplier is to be distributed by next week.

In a bid to ensure the availability of stock, the department of Agriculture is with the department of Information, Communication and Technology (DICT) investing in a digital stocktaking system, for better stock management and control.

In total, an expenditure of R8.8 million is forecasted for the procurement of basic stocks throughout the year. The ministry however hopes to revive the Revolving fund, whereby the department is allocated R5 million annually by the finance ministry, to be used for the purchase of materials, on condition that the funds are then replaced from the proceeds of sales. The fund has been depleted over the years.

“We expect that with the new pricing, the Revolving Fund will stabilise, and we expect that the fund will start to grow, allowing us to import regularly and to stock more variety on the store,” Minister Joubert stated.

To once and for all address the shortage woes, the department is working closely with the Procurement Oversight Unit (POU) to establish procedures to facilitate the procurement process so as to avoid delays in the stocking, in addition to changing suppliers towards better quality products, at competitive prices.

Cutting out middle-men is essential if the department is to achieve its aim of setting a more reasonable profit margin.

Farmers are through the SMS system implemented by the department alerted as to stock updates, and other information relevant to them.

 

Laura Pillay

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