e-Newsletter
04/2021
05 February 2021
Let's advance from an inspiring vision to a transformative plan - Thabo Mbeki Foundation
Government's economic reconstruction and recovery plan is a 'vision' and not the 'transformative plan' the country needs, the Thabo Mbeki Foundation has said. On Thursday, the foundation released a paper in which it provides an analysis on several economic recovery plans released last year for the country as it navigates the Covid-19 crisis. The economy was expected to contract by 7% last year due to the impact of lockdowns restricting economic activity in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 and to help the health system manage cases. Please click here to access the full document released by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation. 
B4SA gives an update on the vaccination roll-out
With phase one of the vaccination programme due to start imminently, BUSA and other stakeholders in the business environment have resuscitated the Business for South Africa (B4SA) platform. Through this platform, BUSA leaders are liaising on a daily basis with their government counterparts to render assistance with the vaccination plan. During an update session this week, representatives gave critical feedback on the process to date. The current focus is on phase one of the process, namely the vaccination of frontline healthcare workers. At this stage, the direct involvement of businesses in the process is largely limited to the private healthcare sector who is making arrangements for their frontline staff to be vaccinated. Read more in the linked article
South African citrus celebrates record-breaking export season with 146 million cartons of fruit
Ten months ago, in March 2020, the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa (CGA) predicted a bumper citrus export season, estimating that export volumes would reach 143 million cartons of fruit. "Now that the final export figures are in, we can announce a record-breaking 2020 export season that delivered 146 million cartons of South African citrus to the rest of the world." These figures indicate phenomenal growth within the South African citrus industry, which remains the second-largest exporter of fresh citrus in the world after Spain. This achievement is the result of close collaborations and partnerships within the industry and with government and is testament to the quality of South African citrus fruit which is in demand all over the globe. Please click here for the full CGA media statement. In a media statement, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza congratulated the citrus industry on the record exports they made. Please click here to peruse.

 South Africa's wine industry reels from alcohol bans
Drinkers in South Africa may cheer the government's decision to lift the latest ban on alcohol sales, but the wine sector fears the move has come too late to save thousands of jobs. The key industry has been badly hit by a string of booze bans, imposed to ease the number of trauma cases in hospitals burdened by coronavirus patients. The third such restriction, imposed on December 28 as South Africa struggled with a second Covid wave, was lifted on Monday. But the announcement will do little to raise morale. Please click here to read the full article, first published on msn.com.
POLICY AND LEGISLATION
African lawyers shining on the global stage
The International Bar Association (IBA), of which Agbiz is a member, recently elected Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Sternford Moyo as its new president to lead the global organisation. Sternford is the spouse of Sara Moyo who co-chairs the IBA's Agricultural Law Section where Agbiz's Theo Boshoff serves as an officer of the committee. The Agricultural Law Section leads policy discussions on legal matters affecting the global agricultural sector such as climate change, intellectual property and compulsory disclosure laws. Please follow the link to the complete article first published on ibanet.org: IBA - Sternford Moyo announced as new IBA President, the first from Africa .
Public policy/advocacy internship available at Agbiz
Agbiz is looking for a suitably qualified individual to join the team on a one-year, fixed-term contract. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as law, economics, agricultural economics, public administration or politics with two to five years’ relevant experience in their field. The opportunity will allow the candidate to gain knowledge and experience in public policy affecting the sector whilst supporting Agbiz’s functionaries in their advocacy efforts. Candidates who meet the criteria (linked) are encouraged to submit their CVs with supporting documentation to theo@agbiz.co.za and natasha@agbiz.co.za by no later than 12 February 2021.
AGRIBUSINESS RESEARCH
SA grains need sunshine more than rain at this point
The weather conditions across South Africa have generally been favourable since the start of the production season in October 2020. Since then, the widespread rains allowed plantings to commence on time, except for a few Limpopo regions, specifically the Springbok plains, which were reasonably drier than most South Africa areas. Nevertheless, the past week's rains have changed fortunes even for those more parched Springbok plains of Limpopo. In the Free State, where the crop was generally in good condition before the past week's rains; my only concern is the potential damages, particularly in farms around Bultfontein, Hoopstad, and Wesselsbron. In the week ahead, these regions will need sunshine to ensure that waterlogging is minimized and the crop recovers. Aside from the Free State, the crops in other provinces of the country appear in good shape, with expectations of fairly average to above-average yields. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published on Fin24.
Thoughts on Zimbabwe’s 2020/21 maize production prospects 
Zimbabwe has not had a good maize production season since 2018/19. Since then, the country has had to import nearly a million tonnes of maize each marketing year to meet its domestic annual requirements. The 2020/21 production season started on a sound footing for most Southern African countries, with forecasts of favourable rainfall that should support plantings. Unfortunately, this will still not suffice to take Zimbabwe close to self-sufficiency as was the case in the 2018/19 maize production season. The preliminary estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Grains Council (IGC) showed that Zimbabwe’s 2020/21 maize production could amount to 908 000 tonnes. Admittedly, this is 17% higher than the previous season’s harvest impacted by dryness at its commencement. Nevertheless, the uptick in the area planted was not much of a deviation from long-term average planting. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo.
LABOUR RELATIONS
Demystifying recruitment
At the start of the year employers might find themselves with the daunting prospect of filling vacancies. The appointment process followed becomes critically important, as hiring the wrong person can have negative consequences in a business. Having a checklist of considerations handy should help employers navigate this particular minefield. Jahni de Villiers of Labour Amplified discusses this subject in the linked article.
OTHER NEWS
Winter disease surge hampers China's hog production recovery
A surge in hog disease outbreaks this winter in China, the world’s biggest pork producer, will slow the industry’s rapid recovery since the African swine fever contagion three years ago, according to industry participants and analysts. China’s pig herd rose 31% in 2020, according to official data, as the industry rebuilt. But more frequent outbreaks of swine fever are occurring in northeast and northern provinces along with a worse-than-usual rise in Porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED), said a manager at a pig farm supply company. Please click here to read the full article, first published on Reuters.
BUSA Covid-19: Cargo movement update
This BUSA Covid-19: Cargo movement update contains a combined overview of air, sea, and road freight to and from South Africa in the last week. The report is the 23rd update. As reported last week, the greater trading community (and indeed the rest of South Africa) will now turn significant attention to the imminent distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. For the National Department of Health's optimistic plan to vaccinate two-thirds of the population by the end of 2021, a collaborative partnership between all stakeholders within the broader supply chain is needed now more than ever. There have been a few positive signs for the industry this week, including allocating a dedicated tariff heading to Covid-19 vaccines, and grant VAT rebate approval for the vaccine. Please click here to peruse.
Your guide to Sona 2021
The State of the Nation Address, also known as Sona, normally takes place at Parliament in February each year. This year’s Sona has been downsized. The occasion is attended by members of all three arms of the state but has shrunk from last year’s 1 200 delegates to only 50 people this year. Sona provides the president with an opportunity to speak to the nation on the general state of South Africa, to reflect on a wide range of political, economic and social matters within the domestic and global contexts, to account to the nation on the work of government and to set out government’s program of action. What exactly is Sona? Why does it happen, what is its aim, and who does what? Here’s what you need to know about Sona set to take place on 11 February this year.
Wine industry honours four trailblazers
Four trailblazers of the South African wine industry were honoured on Tuesday 2 February 2021 during the industry's annual Wine Harvest Commemorative event. The event, presented for the 10th time this year at the historic Groot Constantia Wine Estate in Cape Town, took place virtually. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the wine industry's inception 362 years ago on 2 February 1659, to ask for the blessing of the harvest and to honour role players. For more information, please see the linked media statement. The virtual event is still available on the website www.sawineharvest.co.za and is open to all.
SATI's third crop estimate
The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) released the third crop estimate for the 2020/2021 season with intake volumes increased to between 65,3 million and 69,8 million cartons (4,5 kg equivalent) due to very good quality and harvest conditions in the northern provinces and the three Western Cape-based production regions. This brings the estimate in line again with the first estimate released on 27 October 2020. Read more in the linked SATI media statement.
Above-normal rainfall predicted for early autumn
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently in a La Niña state, and the forecast indicates that it will most likely weaken but remain in a weak La Niña state towards the autumn season. The influence on South Africa from ENSO however is expected to dissipate as we move towards the autumn and winter months. The multi-model rainfall forecast for early autumn (Feb-Mar-Apr) indicates mostly above-normal rainfall for most of the country with the exception of parts of Limpopo and the Eastern Cape to expect below-normal rainfall. Above-normal rainfall is also widely expected in mid-(Mar-Apr-May) and late-autumn (Apr-May-Jun) with the only exception again for parts of the Eastern Cape in mid-autumn. Read more in the linked Seasonal Climate Watch issued by the South African Weather Service.
Wet weather remains in place over summer grain production areas
Widespread rain continued over much of the central to northeastern parts of the country during the last few days, with persistent wet conditions leading to increasing levels of rivers ad dams in many areas. For January, rainfall over almost the entire summer rainfall region was above normal. A significant portion of the total rainfall was contributed directly or indirectly by tropical cyclone Eloise towards the end of the month. Again, as seen during November and December, it was especially the central parts of the country where above-normal rainfall dominated. This area includes the western maize-production region. Current forecasts indicate a continuation of wet conditions over the central to northeastern parts, including the entire dryland maize-production region. While generally very much supportive of crop production, cumulative rainfall totals in some areas may further increase the likelihood or extent of flooding while the persistent wet conditions may result in the occurrence of fungal pathogens. Please click Cumulus for a seasonal weather overview compiled by AgriSeker.
Latest issue of Harvest SA available now
The January/February 2021 issue of Harvest SA is now available. Please click here to access the digital edition jam-packed with the latest news from the agricultural industry.
MEMBERS' NEWS
Get the latest news from SATI
The SATI Trade Newsletter provides an overview of the latest activities in the table grape industry. Please click here for the latest edition.
The latest news from Vinpro
Read more about the latest news in the wine industry in Vinpro's newsletter. 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.
The latest news from the pork industry
Read more about the latest developments and news in the pork industry in the South African Pork Producers' Organisation's (SAPPO) newsletter, SAPPO Weekly Update.
UPCOMING EVENTS
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
AGBIZ MEMBERSHIP
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.
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