by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – AGRI-SA is advocating for the prioritisation on workers in the sector in South Africa’s vaccination drive against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The call by the federation of agricultural organisations, comes as South Africa reels under the third wave of infections.
Christo van der Rheede, executive director of Agri SA, noted the national government, which is primarily responsible for the vaccination drive, had prioritised healthcare workers and those over the age of 60.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government recently added educational staff to be vaccinated.
Van der Rheede said the government nonetheless had not considered critical essential workers such as the agricultural sector.
According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) South Africa’s population now stands at 59,62 million people, hence the duty of the agricultural sector to produce sufficient food to ensure national food security.
Farmers and farm workers who mainly live in rural areas and who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus are responsible for producing food regardless of the third wave of infections, van der Rheede said.
“As they play a critical role in ensuring food security, Agri SA appeals to government to also prioritise the agricultural sector in terms of the national vaccination roll-out,” he urged.
Agri SA believes attention must also be paid to the lack of and poor state of infrastructure in rural areas that might constrain the efficient roll-out of the vaccination drive in these areas.
“Agri SA is concerned that, should farmers and farmworkers who are in essence regarded as essential workers, not be prioritised by national government, it may jeopardise the massive contribution this sector is making in terms of job creation, earning foreign exchange and ensuring food security for all,” Andrea Campher, the Risk and Disaster Manager of Agri SA, said.
Agri SA encouraged farmers and farm workers over the age of 60 to register for the vaccine.
– CAJ News