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Webinar: The COVID relief fund for small-scale farmers: who benefitted, who lost out, and what have we learnt about food systems?

THURSDAY 15 APRIL 2021 from 13:00–14:00 SA Standard Time (Central African Time)

PLAAS invites you to a webinar titled ‘The COVID relief fund for small-scale farmers: who benefitted, who lost out, and what have we learnt about food systems?

The speakers include:

The webinar will be chaired by Samkelisiwe Mkhize, Association for Rural Advancement, KwaZulu-Natal.

This webinar is co-hosted with the Association for Rural Advancement and the SA Land National Network and Engagement Strategy (LandNNES).

South Africa faced a food crisis before the COVID-19 lockdown from March 2020. The lockdown quickly emerged as not only a health crisis, but a sudden and acute, deeper food crisis. The problem of people not having enough money to buy food quickly led to a crisis for the people who produce, process and sell food. While supermarkets and big farms were mostly able to continue their operations, small-scale farmers lost access to markets, services and even access to their farms and livestock in some cases. Government’s response was to launch a relief programme specifically for small-scale farmers, which provided subsidies for farming inputs. Alongside food parcels and additional social grants, this was how government aimed to address the crisis.

In this webinar we will critically assess government’s COVID relief fund for small-scale farmers, which ran from April 2020 to through to the present time in 2021 in three phases, two directly from government and one from the Solidarity Fund , with both government and private sector support. Each phase had different rules as to who was eligible and offered different levels and forms of support. There were winners and losers through this process. Some farmers were able to access support and sustain production. Others got support but in ways that didn’t help them and have not been able to recover from their losses. Many did not receive any support. Some of the criteria excluded people, including women on family-owned land, and people without formally registered companies and bank accounts.

All this brings into question how state authorities think about the huge numbers of people who get their livelihoods from supplying the country with food. We offer not a simple story of a policy that was only partly implemented, but something more profound: it is not merely the pandemic that is changing our food system, but also the way that policy makers, regulators and food industry actors react and respond.

The webinar will look at these questions:

  • Who got what? What did government and the Solidarity Fund achieve, at what scale, how many people were helped and what did they get (and who profited from all this)?
  • Who was excluded and why? What were the criteria, and how did this affect women and men differently?
  • How did civil society and activist organisations engage with government and the Solidarity Fund to advocate for better, more targeted support? And how successful were they
  • What are some changes that are continuing in who is able to farm and sell food to feed South Africa?
  • What can we learn from the way government and the Solidarity Fund managed this crisis? And what must be done to make the food system more resilient and equitable?

Tune in on Thursday 15 April 2021 at:
13 :00 South African Standard Time (SAST) / Central African Time (CAT)
12:00 West Africa Time (WAT)
14:00 East Africa Time (EAT)

Watch the webinar here: Or scroll down to view it.