15 January 2021
Agricultural community mourns the death of Prof. Karaan
Agbiz joins the rest of the agricultural community in mourning the death of Prof. Mohammad Karan, who was a well-known and respected thought leader and academic in the agricultural sector. His death is a huge loss for the academic and agricultural sector in South Africa. In 2016, Agbiz honoured Prof. Karaan for his exceptional service to the South African agribusiness sector. He received the Agbiz Honorary Award at the Agbiz biennial congress held in Somerset West that year. In the linked article first published on Food for Mzansi, various agriculturists, academics and friends paid tribute to a man who has left an indelible mark on the agricultural landscape. Please click here for a statement by Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza.
 NWU Policy Uncertainty Index remains in negative territory
The North-West University (NWU) Business School Policy Uncertainty Index (PUI) at 56.7 for 4Q 2020 remained on a high plateau deep in negative territory, compared with 58.0 in 3Q 2020 (baseline 50). As 2020 drew to a close, many parts of the world as well as South Africa again grappled with the seismic impact on lives and livelihoods of renewed surges in Covid-19. Global growth is still expected to be in positive territory this year, rebounding to about 5%, after being strongly negative in 2020. Several uncertainties remain and depend heavily on how quickly vaccines can be distributed internationally to combat the virus. Please click NWU Business School Policy Uncertainty Index to peruse.
Agriculture and the consumer's "right-to-know" movement
2020 was an exceedingly tough year and agriculture had to adapt to the shifting challenges brought on by Covid-related restrictions on its operations, a reduced demand and bottlenecks throughout the value chain from accessing diesel all the way to moving export products through ports of entry and exit. Despite these challenges, the sector did remarkably well. The pandemic may well be with us for a while but we should not lose sight of other, equally important international trends that may affect the sector. The International Bar Association recently held its annual conference where the Agricultural Law Section focused on the consumer's right to opt out of climate un-friendly food. Read more in the linked article by Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff, written for and first published in Farmer's Weekly. 
Expropriation Bill – is the debate focusing on the right issues?
With the draft Bill's introduction into the National Assembly last month, the Expropriation Bill is again making headlines. Expropriation of any kind is a daunting prospect. The mere thought of the state being able to acquire ownership against the owner's will is not something which can be taken lightly but if you factor in the possibility of nil compensation, it is little surprise that the Bill's introduction to Parliament has caused anxiety in some circles. Theo Boshoff discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Farmer's Weekly.
Trend-bucking rain cause for optimism
South Africa's agricultural sector is having an upbeat start to the year. This optimism is a welcome change from the usual heightened uncertainty that has characterized the beginning of each past few years. Since the severe drought of 2014, we have been experiencing more frequent dry periods each season, which has generally dampened farmers' sentiment. Over the last few years, this time of the year had many of us in agriculture worried about whether farmers would complete the area they intended to plant as various regions would typically be dry. Such dryness was the case at the start of 2020, where many of us doubted if the agricultural sector would fully recover from the contraction experienced in 2019. It was only towards the end of January 2020 when South Africa received widespread and consistent rains that turned the outlook for agriculture to positive. Read more in the linked article by Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published in Business Day.
Thoughts on South Africa’s animal feed prices in 2021
While 2020 was generally a good year for most of South Africa’s agricultural sector on the back of large production, a few subsectors were slightly under pressure. The poultry and livestock industries are among such subsectors, in addition to the wine and tobacco industries that were impacted by covid-19 regulations. The higher maize and soybeans prices towards the end of 2020 led to increasing costs for these industries. For context – roughly 50-70% of broiler production costs in South Africa are attributed to the feed, of which 70-80% comes from maize and soybean costs. Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article.
Covid-19: How to avoid workplace infections
2021 seems to have jumped in exactly where 2020 left off, with drastically increased Covid-19 infections that will affect workplaces. Given that many workplaces were shut down over Christmas and New Year, it is valuable to review the health and safety measures to prevent Covid-19, with employees at the start of the year. In the linked article, Jahni de Villers of Labour Amplified, recaps the most basic steps that businesses need to take to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulations.
A call for the management of fall armyworm in SA
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) hereby makes a clarion call to all maize and related host crops such as sorghum and sweetcorn growers, including community members, to take precautionary measures in controlling fall armyworm (FAW). With early rains experienced in different parts of the country, high infestation levels of FAW can be expected. This will vary from the 2019/2020 season, where there was limited to no rain, accompanied by reduced outbreaks of FAW. Farmers and community members are advised to take precautionary control measures, which include diligent scouting for egg packs, leaf damage and caterpillars as well as trapping, to ensure early detection for effective control of FAW. Please click here for DALRRD media statement.
Vaccinate against Rift Valley fever
There is no need to describe the seriousness of the disease Rift Valley fever (RVF). Most stock owners (yes, we speak about all stock owners as the RFV-virus is reasonably indiscriminate as to what species are affected although to differing degrees). While sheep are the main sufferers, goats, cattle and even buffalo may be affected. Worst of all, RVF is a zoonosis, meaning people can become infected, mainly by handling sick or dead animals. We suffered the loss of a young state veterinarian in the Eastern Cape from the disease a few years ago. All this said, it is a very serious and consequently a notifiable disease. Read more in the National Animal Health Forum (NAHF) media statement.
Rain in the Free State: farmers grateful, but floods cause damage
Most farmers in the Free State are rejoicing over the good rains that have occurred in the province recently, but along with the rains also come numerous challenges. Such as the condition of roads in rural areas and damage to crops. According to a survey conducted by Free State Agriculture (FSA) among the organisation's regional representatives, most districts received above-average rainfall. According to Koot Naude, regional representative in the Ngwathe district (which includes towns such as Heilbron, Edenville and Parys) there is currently no flood damage in the area although some fields have been badly washed away. Naude says that in some parts sunflower plantings still need to be done, but that the wet conditions do not allow it now. A major concern, however, is the condition of roads in the district. "The condition of roads has deteriorated even more and in some parts roads are completely impassable," says Naude. Read more in the linked Free State Agriculture media statement.
Call for entries for the 2021 SA Dairy Championships
All dairy producers are invited to enter the 2021 South African Dairy Championships, the biggest, oldest and most prestigious dairy event in the country. The championships, hosted by Agri-Expo since 1834, annually attracts around 900 entries from large, medium and small manufacturers. These dairy products compete for the esteemed titles of SA Champion, the Qualité mark of excellence and the ultimate Product of the Year, awarded at the glamorous South African Dairy Awards. According to chief judge Alan Fourie, the purpose of the championships is to recognise and promote excellence in the dairy industry. “The SA Dairy Championships is one of the few in the world that uses five judges per category and has become the benchmark for producers to measure themselves against each other,” Fourie says. Please click Agri-Expo media statement to peruse.
Packing delayed in Orange River table grape region due to rain
Packing in the Orange River table grape production region of South Africa has been disrupted and delayed in week 1 of 2021 due to heavy rains in the Northern Cape. Although ill-timed for table grape growers, the rain brought much relief to the drought-stricken areas of this province. Producers in the region expected to resume packing towards the end of the week and the weather outlook over the next 10 days looked favourable. The start of the season in the Orange River region was about 14 days late which means that a good 30% of the crop still needs to be packed. Read more in the SATI media statement. 
Latest news from SRCC's projects
Read more about the latest developments at the Sunday's River Citrus Company (SRCC) in the December 2020 issue of The Transformation Times. Please click here to peruse.
Get the latest news from the FPEF
Keeping it Fresh, the newsletter of the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum, contains all the recent relevant news and developments. Please click here for the latest edition.
Weekly newsletter from CGA
Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern African, shares the latest news in the citrus industry in his weekly update - From the desk of the CEO. Please click here to peruse.
News from AFMA
The AFMA e-News covers highlights of articles published in the January-March 2021 edition of the AFMA Matrix, as well as other news relevant to the broader industry and value chains. Please click here to peruse.
Agbiz Congress 2021
Theme: "Building resilient and sustainable agri-food ecosystems".
7-9 April 2021 | Sun City Convention Centre | South Africa

Second International Congress of Biological Control (ICBC2) 
26-30 April 2021 | Davos, Switzerland

 2020 AgriAllAfrica Agribusiness Conference - POSTPONED TO 2021
Theme: "Imagined responses to Covid-19: Progress with the development of solutions"
6 May 2021 | CSIR | Pretoria 
Enquiries: Marianna.duplessis@gmail.com | +27 063 076 9135
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.
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.