11 January 2019
Hope for progress in 2019, despite uncertainty

Happy New Year to all! We hope you have celebrated the start of 2019 in good spirits with family and friends. "With the challenges of greater uncertainty, less control, and greater risk, more opportunities present themselves in the new year," was the message from Agbiz CEO in a Farmer's Weekly article featuring New Year's messages from agricultural leaders.  "I urge the agriculture and agribusiness fraternities to identify and exploit these opportunities, and to continue working smart and planning ahead to ensure that we manage the setbacks brought about by these challenges as best we can." Please click here to read the full article.
Agbiz launches new desk for fruit industry

Stephanie van der Walt has been appointed as general manager of the Fruit Desk at Agbiz as of January 2019. The Fruit Desk is an initiative of Fruit South Africa, and specifically the Citrus Growers Association, Hortgro, SATI and the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum, in collaboration with Agbiz.
The Fruit Desk is the third industry desk to be instituted at Agbiz. The purpose of the desk is to ensure that the South African fruit sector is represented in matters of policy, regulation and market access.
Stephanie is an admitted attorney by profession, holding an LLM degree in international trade and investment, awarded jointly by the University of Pretoria and the Washington School of Law in the US. She is currently enrolled for an MPhil in development practice at the Department of Economic and Management Science of the University of Pretoria.
She joins the Agbiz team from the National Agricultural Marketing Council, where she served since 2010, first in the capacity of senior analyst: legal, markets and trade within the Markets and Economics Research Centre and later as manager: legal services in the office of the CEO. While at the NAMC, Stephanie's work focused on legal developments affecting agricultural markets and competitiveness at both the local and international level as well as advising on corporate governance, contracts and project management. Stephanie gained international experience while stationed at the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
Draft Expropriation Bill published for comments 

The Draft Expropriation Bill was published for public comment in the Government Gazette. As anticipated, the Bill was amended from the previous draft which served before Parliament to make provision for expropriation without compensation in isolated instances. The Bill therefore states, as it did previously, that owners are entitled to just and equitable compensation as per section 25 of the Constitution. The amendment has however come in with the addition of section 12 (3) where it is stated that it could be just and equitable to be paid zero compensation in the following instances:
1. Land is occupied by labour tenants;
2. Land is held for speculative purposes (not defined);
3. Land is owned by a state-owned corporation or other state-owned entity;
4. The owner has abandoned the land (not defined); or
5. The market value is equivalent to or less than the present value of state investment or subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the property.
From a first reading of the Bill, it appears as if the insertion described above was the only substantive amendment made from the previous draft.
We have been afforded 60 days to comment on the draft and Agbiz will duly compile a written input and consult with members on this input before the due date of 21 February 2019. Please click here to peruse.
What does the US-Africa strategy mean for South Africa and the continent?

The tail-end of 2018 was inundated with various news cycles, both domestic and international, which eventually over-shadowed a major policy pronouncement - the United States (US) Africa strategy. After two years without much clarity on the Trump administration's stance on Africa, it seemed ironic that the Africa Strategy almost went unnoticed, given that it was announced well into the festive season, with many institutions either wrapping up or closed for the holidays. Given the significance of the US' Africa strategy, it is necessary to unpack it and discuss its implications for the continent. What does the US-Africa strategy actually say and how is it different from the previous US administration? Click here  for more insights in Agbiz head of Agribusiness Wandile Sihlobo's article written for and first published in Business Day.
US government shutdown impacts global agricultural data release

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plays an important role in providing timeous data on global agricultural markets, amongst other activities. One of its flagship monthly reports that many agricultural analysts often refer to when doing market research, which has implications for global agricultural commodity prices, is the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report. This report generally covers key grains, oilseeds, livestock and dairy industries.  Unfortunately, the current partial US government shutdown has affected the functions of the country's Department of Agriculture, and thus leading to a delay in the release of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report which was originally scheduled for January 11, 2019. Read more about this in Wandile Sihlobo's linked blogpost.
Can SA's stagnating sorghum industry be revived?

In 2014, sorghum was one of the more promising crops in local agriculture, boosted by the hope of the development of the biofuel industry, job creation and a new market for farmers, particularly black smallholder farmers. South African farmers planted 28 800 ha of sorghum in the 2017/18 production season, the smallest area on record in a dataset starting from 1936/37. This is a disappointing picture, given that sorghum, apart from its use as a food, was once seen as key to the development of the biofuel industry in South Africa and, in turn, job creation in rural areas. Wandile Sihlobo provides more insight in an article written for and first published on Fin24. 
Another challenging year for Malawi in terms of food supplies

The near-term estimates for major agricultural commodities such as maize, suggest that 2019 will most likely not bring any change to Malawi's food system. The country's maize supplies will remain tight, which could lead, somewhat, to an increase in maize prices, and could in turn add pressure to consumers.  The International Grains Council (IGC) forecasts Malawi's 2018/19 maize production at 3.0 million tonnes, down by 14% from the previous season due to prospects of unfavourable weather conditions. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) paints a slightly gloomier picture, putting Malawi's 2018/19 maize harvest at 2.8 million tonnes. Please click here to read Wandile Sihlobo's blogpost on this issue.
Two occurrences of wheat rust in southern Africa 

Mariana Purnell, general manager of Agbiz Grain, reported the following regarding significant wheat rust occurrences in southern Africa: 
1. Stripe rust was observed for the first time in Zimbabwe in September 2018. Samples were sent from Zimbabwe last year to both the ARC-Small Grain and University of the Free State (UFS). Both ARC-SG and UFS are in the process of identifying the stripe rust race. 
2. An existing Ug99 variant (PTKSK) has been confirmed in South Africa for the first time. This brings the number of Ug99 races described from South Africa to five. The fifth variant of Ug99 race was detected during the recent national rust screening survey. The PTKSK information is currently available as a "first look" disease note in the scientific journal Plant Disease. The stripe rust announcement has not been officially published as more tests need to be conducted.
However, we should not panic when we hear this news. Local scientists are taking action to avoid what could potentially be a complete disaster on wheat production in South Africa. It is anticipated that researchers will soon indicate which regions are affected, and whether farmers and the wheat industry should be worried.
Please click here for the announcement regarding stripe rust in Zimbabwe and the first report of PTKSK (Ug99 variant) in South Africa. This is the information that will be published in Plant Disease as indicated above.
We presently await communication from the ARC-SG regarding the results of their survey so as to keep the whole value chain informed and let them rest assured that plans are in place to avoid disaster.
J SE-listed Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa (Land Bank) has appointed Konehali Gugushe acting CFO.  It also appointed Sakhumzi Diza acting credit chief risk officer (CRO) and Nafiza Khan acting CRO.  These personnel will report to the acting CEO Bennie van Rooyen, who was appointed in December.  Gugushe, who was previously CRO, is a qualified chartered accountant and joined the bank in 2015, with a wealth of financial and risk management experience.  Diza, who was previously the bank's corporate credit GM, will oversee all risk and credit functions - corporate and commercial - in the bank.  Khan, who was previously the bank's enterprise risk GM, will oversee enterprise risk, market and liquidity risk and credit risk monitoring.  Press release
Postive FMD results in the Vhembe district of Limpopo

South Africa's Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced earlier this week that there are positive laboratory results for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in the Vhembe district of Limpopo, bordering Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Therefore, South Africa has temporarily lost its FMD-free status which might somewhat disrupt export markets for beef. I will comment more on this when we get further information from the government and other stakeholders. The scientists are currently on the ground conducting further investigations to verify the results and determine the extent of the outbreak of FMD. The control measures will be determined by the findings of this investigation. You can access the official press release here .
Senwes Expo postponed until further notice 

Senwes has announced that the upcoming Senwes Expo 2019 scheduled for 29 and 30 January at Nampo Park near Bothaville has been postponed until further notice.
2019 DEKALB Create Conferences

First Bi-annual International Soy for Human Health Conference 2019
11-13 March 2019 | St George Hotel | Pretoria

CGA Citrus Summit  
1 2-14 March 2019 | Boardwalk Hotel | Port Elizabeth

Global Cherry Summit 2019
25 April 2019  | Monticello Conference Center | San Francisco de Mostazal, Chile

Ensminger Pig Symposium
22-23 May 2019 | Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre | Benoni

PMA Fresh Connections: SA Conference and Trade Show
30-31 July 2019 | Century City | Cape Town
Why join Agbiz?
  • Agbiz is the only organisation that serves the broader and common over-arching business interests of agribusinesses in South Africa.
  • Agbiz addresses the legislative and policy environment on the many fronts that it impacts on the agribusiness environment.
  • Agbiz facilitates considerable top-level networking opportunities so that South African agribusinesses can play an active and creative role within the local and international organised business environment.
  • Agbiz research provides sector-specific information for informed decision-making.
  • Agbiz newsletter publishes members' press releases and member product announcements.

                                      Like us on Facebook            Follow us on Twitter            View our profile on LinkedIn                                    
The Agbiz Newsletter may contain a few links to websites that belong to third parties unrelated to us.  By making these links available, we are not endorsing third-party websites, their content, products, services or their events.  Agbiz seeks to protect the integrity of its newsletter and links used in it, and therefore welcomes any feedback.
In this newsletter