The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng called on the provincial government to assist farmers who may be affected by the closure of the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market after a positive case of Covid-19 was reported.
In a statement, DA MP Ina Cilliers said it was necessary that health and safety protocols had been followed, however, 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.”
Cilliers said the provincial government needed to develop a better approach which would be to close off affected sections and implement pro-active systems of communication with clients as it was not affordable for small producers to deliver at another market.
She further said that the department of agriculture had responded that markets fall under the management of each municipality, in a reply to written questions about the alleged neglect of fresh produce markets in Gauteng.
“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,” she added.
As of Monday, Gauteng currently has 39,841 cases of Covid-19 with 9,738 recoveries in the process. A further six Covid-19 related deaths were reported, bringing the total number to 180 in the province.