30 July 2021
Agribusinesses have an important role in rebuilding South Africa after recent unrests
We are yet to fully understand the impact and financial costs of the devastation from the recent incidents of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng in the agricultural sector. At a high level, it appears that primary agriculture was broadly insulated from the direct damage. Still, the disruptions in various sugar mills, bakeries, eggs businesses and milling facilities, amongst others, impact primary agriculture by disrupting supply chains and slowing demand from these establishments. Small-to-medium scale farms that directly supplied the retailers are also affected as their typical market channel vanished in a few days. In collaboration with provincial departments and private sector players, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development should assess the scale of this damage and devise potential response measures to sustain the agricultural sector in its robust form. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article.
Research and innovation critical in supporting farming
Agriculture ministers from across the globe gathered - physically and virtually - in Rome this week for the Pre-Summit of the United Nations' Food Systems Summit. The theme of the Pre-Summit was "Transforming food systems for achieving the sustainable development goals: rising to the challenge". The inputs ranged from a need to improve the resilience of the global food systems amid the shocks of the current Covid-19 pandemic to the need for increased investment in innovation and research to cope with climate change and combat hunger. South Africa's Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, elevated the latter point in her remarks. She noted that "research and innovation are critical in supporting smallholder and commercial framers, especially in responding to new challenges of climate change. Both governments and the private sector should increase investments in research." Wandile Sihlobo shares his feedback on the event in the linked article.
Will state custodianship lead to real empowerment?
As this article is being written, parliamentarians serving on the Ad Hoc Committee are considering various proposals to amend section 25 of the Constitution put forth by political parties. As readers will likely know, no final wording could be agreed on by the end of May so the committee was given additional time until the end of August to come up with a report for the National Assembly. One of the most contentious proposals that could not be agreed upon by the end of May, was to state that land is a natural resource and the common heritage of the people as a whole under the custodianship of the state. To place it into context, the same wording already exists in legislation controlling water and mineral rights in South Africa. It is for this reason that no private person can ‘own’ water in South Africa but must rather apply to the state for a use right. The proposal would essentially place land in the same category. Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Farmer's Weekly.
Forecasts suggest food price inflation will start to slow
If the questions I frequently receive through various media platforms and e-mail are anything to go by, I would say concerns about rising food price inflation still linger. These actually hold water, as various food product prices have been rising at a relatively faster pace. For example, in June 2021 annual food price inflation accelerated to 7% from 6.8% in May, the fastest pace since June 2017. Ironically, this is after we have had one of the best agricultural seasons in the country’s history. To single out a few products, the 2020/2021 maize harvest is 16.2-million tonnes, the second-largest yet in SA. The soya bean harvest is the largest on record, and the same is true for citrus. With harvest figures like this, it is understandable that folk continue to wonder why we are seeing rising food prices. Wandile Sihlobo explores this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day. You can also listen to a podcast on this subject.
Drawing further apart: widening gaps in the global recovery
The global economic recovery continues, but with a widening gap between advanced economies and many emerging market and developing economies. Our latest global growth forecast of 6 percent for 2021 is unchanged from the previous outlook, but the composition has changed. Growth prospects for advanced economies this year have improved by 0.5 percentage point, but this is offset exactly by a downward revision for emerging market and developing economies driven by a significant downgrade for emerging Asia. For 2022, we project global growth of 4.9 percent, up from our previous forecast of 4.4 percent. But again, underlying this is a sizeable upgrade for advanced economies, and a more modest one for emerging market and developing economies. Read more in the linked blogpost by Gita Gopinath, economic counsellor and director of the research department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Transnet cyberattack: citrus export season remains on track
In a media statement earlier this week, the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) stated that it was in close contact with Transnet on the unprecedented cyber-attack which has disabled electronic systems and disrupted container terminals in all South African ports. Transnet is working around the clock to get the full IT system back online, with some applications already having been restored. While these repairs are being carried out, manual systems are being used to shift cargo, which have slowed down operations at the ports. However, citrus being shipped via break bulk vessels have not been impacted due to this fruit being serviced by private terminals in domestic ports. As a result, there is currently a backlog of fruit across the citrus supply chain causing temporary delays when it comes to fruit being exported to key markets. In order to ease pressure on South African ports, growers are also diverting fruit to the Maputo port. Please click here to read the full media statement.
Supporting improved water use efficiency in the South African agri-processing sector
Water scarcity, greater demand for water, and changes in water supply due to climate change are severely affecting South Africa, posing a significant risk to the region and its economies. A sector particularly vulnerable to water shortages is South Africa’s agri-processing industry, a major contributor to value addition, job creation, and exports. Increasing water scarcity - combined with the rising cost of energy and fuel - is threatening the competitiveness and sustainability of red meat, poultry, dairy, fruit and vegetable processors, which combined consume about 10 percent of the total water used by agri-processing companies in the country. Agri-business is highly dependent upon water availability and according to the 2019 Water Market Intelligence Report published by Green Cape, is the largest water use sector in South Africa, estimated at 61% of total water requirements. Read more about the research in the linked article by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Local potato industry appeals for support amidst major EU dumping threats 
The battle between the local potato industry and global importers has a long-standing history, with South Africa being considered a prime destination for dumping frozen processed potato products. With the recent lapse of anti-dumping duty protection, there is a significant risk that the increased volume of below-cost frozen French fries that land on our shores from the Netherlands and Belgium will cripple South African farmers and producers. Expressing concern for the local potato industry and pleading for local support, Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (PSA), shared, "South African producers have been experiencing many challenges brought on by Covid-19, the cost-price squeeze, rising input costs and most recently, the riots in parts of the country." Read more in the linked media statement.
Statistical information on the performance of the dairy industry
The price index of a basket of dairy products traded internationally, as published by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), increased in the twelve months up to May 2021, to a level 27.9 percent higher than in May 2020, 13.3 percent higher than in May 2019 and 8.8 percent higher than in May 2018. The purpose of this report is only to capture a number of important observations in respect of the set of 30 tables and 19 graphs, presented to the general meeting of SAMPRO on 22 July 2021. The next edition of the quarterly report of SAMPRO titled “Summary of key market signals for the dairy industry”, will cover the quarter which ends in August 2021. Please click here to peruse.
Welcome to the July-August issue of Harvest SA
Our sugar feature, courtesy of Illovo and SA Canegrowers, tells the heart-warming tale of how the sugar industry is gearing up to put women and youth first. This translates into tremendous opportunities for rural communities. In a potatoes update, small-scale farmers can learn from the ARC how to grow with minimal inputs for maximum profit. In our banana feature, you can learn how to apply the basics of banana cultivation for more profit and success, while a technical article fills you in on how to give those trees the right nutrition to produce the best herbs. Yes, technically, bananas are herbs, not fruit. Other technical articles in this issue address foliar feeding, irrigation, and social responsibility, among others. Read more in the latest issue of Harvest SA.
Time to rebuild as wine sales are partially reopened
After what has been a very long month during which no domestic wine sales were allowed, Vinpro is relieved that South African wine businesses can start trading and rebuilding. Vinpro said: "We cannot, however, deny the significant and in some cases, irreparable damage the previous liquor bans have had on our industry." Vinpro will therefore continue with our respective actions to help revive and rebuild the sector. We shall continue with our litigation against government to ensure a differentiated approach. We will also continue to engage with government regarding the full reopening of wine sales, lifting the restriction on capacity in establishments such as restaurants and wine tasting rooms, as well as securing financial relief and support for the sector, specifically to assist small to medium enterprises. At the same time, we still strongly contend that government should ensure stricter policing/enforcement of the current legislation and to also curb illicit trade, and will continue to emphasise this matter in all of our engagements. Please click here to peruse.
Celebrating the life of Frank Lawrence
GWK honours the memory of Frank Lawrence, GWK vice-chairperson and well-known South African farmer, for a life lived well with a tremendous positive impact on so many people’s lives. Frank, an experienced farmer, was injured on his farm near Jacobsdal while calibrating farming implements on Monday (19 July) when the incident occurred in which he was hit by moving equipment. He suffered internal and other injuries and passed away in hospital on Saturday (24 July) just after 21:00. Llewellyn Brooks, GWK group managing director, says it is difficult to explain how hard it is to share the news about Frank’s passing: “But, in this sad time, let’s celebrate the life and legacy of a man who led with his heart and be grateful for the time we have known him. Frank not only played a major role in GWK as a business but also made a difference for our people, the wider community, farmers from all over and the agricultural industry. We all knew Frank and loved the man he was.” Please click here for the full GWK media statement.
The latest news from Croplife
The latest issue of the Crop Circular, published by Croplife, covers topics such as resistance management, factors to consider in aerial application, and easy calculations from pesticide container to spray tank. Please click here to peruse.
Get the latest news from the table grape industry
The July 2021 issue of the SATI Newsletter is jam-packed with the latest news from the table grape industry. Please click here to peruse.
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.
Sustainability Summit 2021
21-23 September 2021 | Virtual

2021 AFMA Symposium
18-19 October 2021
Enquiries: events@afma.co.za 

Intra-African Trade Fair 2021
15-21 November 2021 | Durban

Agbiz Congress 2022
22-24 June 2022 | Sun City
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