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South Africa prepares $66m to help farmers affected by COVID-19

South Africa prepares $66m to help farmers affected by COVID-19
Harvested fruits at a farm in South Africa   -  
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South Africa

South Africa will make available about $66m to help small-scale farmers hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 75,000 small-scale farmers will benefit from the fund, said Thoko Didiza, the country's minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on Monday at a press briefing.

The fund mostly targets youth, women, the disabled, unemployed army veterans and farm workers.

"In excess of 75,000 subsistence producers will be supported with farming input vouchers, to retain self-employment in the sector, while supporting food value chains," said Didiza

She said 50 percent of beneficiaries will be women.

Applications will be done over the phone. Applicants must be citizens of South Africa, not employed by the state and are actively involved in agricultural production. 

Succesful beneciaries will receive one-off payments ranging between R1,000 ($66) and R9,000 ($592).

In May, the agriculture ministry announced that it had received thousands of calls from farmers appealing for help.

South Africa is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world with over 800,000 virus cases and 20,000 fatalities.

While president Cyril Ramapahosa ended all restrictions on international travel, cluster outbreaks forced him to announce city and provincial-level curbs on movement and gatherings last Friday.

The stringent measures which came into effect at the end of March have seriously affected the economy of the most industrialized country on the continent, causing 2.2 million people to lose their jobs.

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