The KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has bumped up production of sanitisers in its Cedara laboratory to help the provincial government’s fight against the spread of Covid-19.On Tuesday, MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi said the department had always produced its own sanitisers for use in its own facilities and by vets when they go out in the field, but it was never on a large scale. Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the provincial cabinet resolved that DARD would increase its production of sanitisers to assist other departments and supply struggling farming communities. This came after government received indications that the private sector was struggling to meet the growing demand, which saw prices escalating on the few available products.Deputy director-general Jerry Mfusi said they previously produced about 25 litres a day to disinfect their labs and use in their facilities. It contains 70% ethanol and water with either liquid soap or glycerine as the finishing product.“We are now producing at least 1 000 300ml bottles and about five 25 litres a day. In the past two weeks alone we’ve managed to produce 4 443 bottles to try and meet the demand because we’ve got orders from the government departments and farmers.”Mfusi said he did not know whether the department would continue with the mass production post Covid-19 as they have received a positive response from those who have been using their sanitisers.“It’s the first time that such large quantities are being produced by government so we might have to look at DARD as a developmental department because there’s obviously a need for this product.”Sithole-Moloi said the department would be distributing most of their sanitisers to disadvantaged farming communities who cannot afford to buy their own. She said this was DARD’s contribution to the fight against Covid-19 as it was not selling the product. “We will open criminal cases against anyone who is found to be collecting free bottles of our sanitisers then selling it to others. We know it might be tempting to some to do that because the demand for sanitisers is high but we would like to discourage them from doing that before they get arrested,” she said.