2 July 2021
Joint statement by the World Bank Group, IMF, WHO and WTO on Covid-19 issues in developing countries
The heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and World Trade Organization convened earlier this week for the first meeting of the Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries. In a joint statement they stated: “As many countries are struggling with new variants and the third wave of Covid-19 infections, accelerating access to vaccines becomes even more critical to ending the pandemic everywhere and achieving broad-based growth. We are deeply concerned about the limited vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and support for deliveries available to developing countries. Urgent action is needed now to arrest the rising human toll due to the pandemic, and to halt further divergence in the economic recovery between advanced economies and the rest." Please click here to read the complete statement.
Sub-Saharan Africa: we need to act now
Sub-Saharan Africa is in the grips of a third wave of Covid-19 infections that threatens to be even more brutal than the two that came before. This is yet more evidence of a dangerous divergence in the global economy. One track for countries with good access to vaccines, where strong recoveries are taking hold. And another for those countries that are still waiting and at risk of falling further behind. The growth of infections in sub-Saharan Africa is now the fastest in the world, with an explosive trajectory that is outpacing the record set in the second wave. At this pace, this new wave will likely surpass previous peaks in a matter of days – and in some countries, infections are already more than double, or even triple, their January peaks. The latest (Delta) variant –reportedly 60% more transmissible than earlier variants – has been detected in 14 countries. Please click the linked IMF blogpost to peruse.
Competition Commission presents to Nedlac TIC on SA economy and jobs
The Competition Commission (CC) presented a policy statement on South Africa’s economy and jobs situation to the Trade and Industry Chamber (TIC) of Nedlac last week. There are various references to agriculture and the agro-food system, so it is well worth perusing the linked presentation to understand the concerns of the CC. Business conveyed specific concerns around interventions that seemingly are aimed at addressing concentration in the economy, but essentially undermine the competitiveness of certain sectors. Far more emphasis should be placed on the root causes and structural factors inhibiting broader participation in our economy. By addressing these root causes and structural factors that stifle entrepreneurship and investment, South Africa will be able to attract new entrants, especially SMEs, into a range of sectors and this will lead to job creation.
Fight against foot-and-mouth disease intensified in KwaZulu-Natal
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has intensified its biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in KwaZulu-Natal. Earlier, an outbreak was confirmed after positive samples for the virus were found in cattle during routine surveillance at the Nkonkoni dip tank in Mtubatuba. The findings were confirmed by the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Laboratory, which said it was a type 2 foot-and-mouth disease virus. The DALRRD has now intensified disease surveillance and shutdown movement of all cloven-hoofed animals, animal products and genetic material into, within, through and out of the FMD disease management area of KwaZulu-Natal (DMA). This movement control protocol applies to the DMA as declared under Act 35 of 1984 – comprising the municipal districts of King Cetshwayo, Umnkhanyakude and Zululand. The protocol was gazetted on 30 June 2021.
What is driving South Africa's consumer food prices higher? 
Rising food prices continue to dominate the headlines, domestically and globally. It is not unusual for one to see complaints about rising sunflower oil prices or broader headline food price inflation on the domestic front. This has, in turn, raised questions of how this could be in a year of an abundant agricultural harvest? The answer goes back to the fact that South Africa is interlinked to the global food system, which at the present moment is facing an uptick in prices. Consider sunflower oils; South Africa is a net importer of sunflower oils, importing on average 197 342 tonnes per annum in the past five years. Additionally, South Africa imports, on average, 477 185 tonnes of palm oil a year. The global prices of these products have been on an upward trajectory for months, with palm oil reaching the highest level since 2011 in May this year. These increases are caused by the combination of lower supplies in Southeast Asian countries, specifically for palm oil, and rising demand for sunflower oils and soybeans, particularly in China and the global biodiesel sector. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked article.
Grain and oilseeds prices hold firm on weather concerns despite glut
The global grain and oilseeds production headline numbers paint a picture of a world that is awash with supplies, yet prices have not fallen in anticipation of bumper harvests. The explanations for this range from dryness in parts of South America in the past few months, which affected the crop the region is harvesting, to other weather-related concerns in Europe and the North Americas, where plantings for the new season of 2021/2022 are nearing completion. Another critical issue is that global grains and oilseeds stocks are low, as consumption from China and other industrial users has remained strong over the past few years. Maize is a good case in point. Lower stocks are a catalyst for the knee-jerk reactions in prices whenever there is news of unfavourable weather conditions in major grain and oilseed-producing countries. Such price fluctuations occur even if the weather-related news has minimal impact on actual crop conditions. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published in Business Day.
Why grain storers make certain deductions
Representatives in the grain and oilseeds value chain recently came to an agreement on a protocol to resolve disputes. The protocol promises to address, in particular, disputes that cannot be decided without the intervention of an independent arbitrator. The protocol to settle disputes on which farmers, grain storers, animal feed producers and millers have agreed to, meets the grading regulations’ minimum requirements, as well as the legal requirements of the Agricultural Product Standards Act (119 of 1990). Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer discusses this topic in the linked article, written for and first published in Landbouweekblad.
Agbiz pays tribute to titans of the industry who succumbed to Covid-19
The dreaded Covid-19 virus continues to take its toll. Over the past 16 months, the agricultural sector lost prominent industry leaders and role players due to Covid-19. Last week Agbiz was shocked and saddened to hear that Simnikiwe Sikiwe, Bully Botma, Andile Hawes and Christo Faasen had succumbed to Covid-19. These individuals made telling contributions to the sector. In the linked document, we pay tribute to them and the role they have played in our sector. The Covid-19 pandemic has also resulted in the loss of many others that to a larger or lesser degree were involved in the agricultural fraternity, including Jabu Mabuza (former President of BUSA, amongst others and who also farmed), as well as Hennie de Lange of Unigrain. Our sincere condolences to all who have lost loved ones. To all, please keep safe and well, and vaccinate as soon as possible.
Invitation to B4SA Business Communicators' Forum
On Friday 2 July from 14:00 to 15.30, Business for South Africa (B4SA) will host a Business Communicators’ Forum with a range of leaders and experts to explain and discuss the progress of the vaccination rollout, the process SAHPRA, the independent regulator follows to approve new vaccines for use in SA, the role and risk of airborne Covid-19 infections and what business can do to mitigate this, and how business can work with the National Department of Health to inform and mobilise staff, customers and communities to support vaccination. Speakers include:
  • Martin Kingston, chair, B4SA Steering Committee: Progress of SA’s national vaccination programme and the role of business.
  • Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, CEO, South African Health Products Regulator (SAHPRA): The role of the regulator in approving new vaccines.
  • Sean Chester and Garth Hunter from Green Flag: Airborne risk of Covid-19 and measures to mitigate.
  • David Harrison, CEO, DG Murray Trust & NDoH: How business can work with NDoH to mobilise vaccinations. 
Please follow this link to attend the Zoom meeting.
Rooibos tea: EU protection is good news for South African agriculture
The European Union recently added rooibos (red bush) tea to its register of products with a protected designation of origin. The iconic tea is the first African product to receive such status in the EU, and the 40th from a non-EU country. Rooibos is in good company – this is the same kind of protection given to champagne, prosciutto di Parma, feta and many other iconic foods. This designation contributes to a product’s global standing, and is likely to have benefits – economic and beyond – for the region. Protected status is given to products whose quality is strictly linked to the local area and peculiar manufacturing techniques. Read more in the linked article, first published on The Conversation.
It’s some of America’s richest farmland. But what is it without water??
A California farmer decides it makes better business sense to sell his water than to grow rice. An almond farmer considers uprooting his trees to put up solar panels. Drought is transforming the state, with broad consequences for the food supply. In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all. It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has concluded that it makes better business sense to sell the water he would have used to grow rice than to actually grow rice. Or why a melon farmer has left a third of his fields fallow. Or why a large landholder farther south is thinking of planting a solar array on his fields rather than the thirsty almonds that delivered steady profit for years. Read more in the linked article, first published in The New York Times.
Grains analyst missing as China shuts down information on failed crop
Independent analysts who report on China's grains industry have reportedly been arrested and their online businesses shut down to stop them from telling the truth about the country's below-average crop. Chinese officials are cracking down on independent information about grain pricing. There are reports that analysts working in Beijing for respected grains reporting firm Cofeed have been arrested or are under house arrest. Another company called JCI, based in Shanghai, also appears to have had an employee arrested. Andrew Whitelaw from Thomas Elder Markets says it is very difficult to get reliable details on what is happening in agriculture in China. Read more in the linked article, first published on ABC News.
Resilience the key to Senwes' record financial results
The financial results of the Senwes Group reflect a 57,7% increase in turnover amounting to R7,6 billion (2020: R4,8 billion) while earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation increased by 61,1% from R0,6 billion to R1,0 billion. A profit attributable to normal equity holders of R526 million was delivered, representing an increase of 73,6% from the R303 million of the corresponding period of the previous year. “Globally, the year 2020/21 will be remembered not only for the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also as a time of great instability, digital transformation and the rapid transition to a new norm. On home soil the agricultural sector had to further contend with a season of extremes, ranging from wildfires, floods, crop pests and animal diseases to a record maize crop and continued favourable market prospects,” said Francois Strydom, group chief executive officer. Please click here to peruse.
Omnia CEO receives prestigious award
Omnia would like to congratulate CEO Seelan Gobalsamy on winning the prestigious 2021 CEO Today Africa Award. "May he continue to lead Omnia and our stakeholders towards new opportunities with continued focus, purpose and determination." Every year CEO Today Magazine identifies and honours the most respected companies and their C-Level executives who lead the way on a global stage. The team collates votes and in-depth sector-by-sector research to choose the very best of the best among the world’s CEOs to reward and celebrate the leadership and strategic vision of CEOs across a number of sectors to indentify the most successful, innovative and forward thinking CEOs in business today. For more on these awards, click here.
Get the latest news from the FPEF
Keeping it Fresh, the newsletter of the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum (FPEF), contains all the recent relevant news and developments. Please click here for the latest edition
New AFMA Matrix is available
The AFMA Matrix is now available in print and online. If you prefer a hard copy and are not already subscribed, please contact AFMA at admin@afma.co.za. You can download the online version here.
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.
Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA’s) EU Green Deal Series
6 July 2021  | Session 3: Impact on Business and Commercial Ventures
In this session, you will learn how the EU Green Deal could impact your business and how to de-risk your business. Speakers will be announced.

Sustainability Summit 2021
21-23 September 2021 | Virtual

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

Agbiz Congress 2022
22-24 June 2022 | Sun City
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.