One of South Africa’s popular agricultural events, the annual Royal Agricultural Show in Pietermaritzburg, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The cancellation was a result of the recent directive from South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa prohibiting any organized mass gatherings of over 100 people following the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the world.
The Royal Agricultural Show typically occurs in May each year, with this year’s event scheduled to take place from May 25-31. The show is one of the continent’s largest mixed exhibitions, incorporating a full-fledged agricultural component, and generating in excess of R250 million for the Pietermaritzburg region.
This event is well -known for including showings of livestock and agricultural equipment; and also boasts an extensive entertainment program and broad mixture of public-interest exhibits, with myriad displays and activities including lifestyle exhibitions, music concerts and even a funfair.
In addition to the Royal Agricultural Show, another postponed event within the sector is the Taung Irrigation Summit organized by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which was scheduled to take place on March 19.
While speaking on the cancellations, an independent agricultural economist, Dr. Kobus Laubscher, said these cancellations were but the first of many to come, and would cost the country hundreds of millions of rand.
In a statement, Terry Strachan, CEO of the Royal Agricultural Society, said the decision to cancel had not been taken lightly, and that it is possible that the show could be held at a later date.
He reported that the society was in the process of implementing a number of measures to deal with priority concerns, including the refunding of money paid, and unwinding of contracts with service providers.