28 May 2021
What should we expect from the 2021 GDP revisions?
It seems reasonable to expect substantial upward adjustments to our GDP and growth estimates in the forthcoming national accounts revisions. South Africa’s national accounts were last rebased and benchmarked in 2014 (for years up to 2013). The next rebasing (from the current 2010 base year to 2015) that should have been done in 2019, was rescheduled to 2020, but was deferred due to the unusual circumstances of the year. Publication of the 2018 supply and use tables was also deferred, and the March 2020 and March 2021 GDP estimates did not include the usual adjustments for prior years based on independent annual estimates. Stats SA indicated in March that rebased and benchmarked GDP estimates would be published by the end of May 2021 and that the June GDP estimates (for the first quarter of 2021) and the June Reserve Bank Quarterly Bulletin would be compiled on the revised basis. But there has been a further delay – Stats SA now says the 2015-based GDP estimates will be published in August. Read more in the linked article by Andrew Donaldson of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, first published in Business Day.
SA's progress towards its development objectives
The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) has compiled a collection of essays about South Africa’s progress towards its development objectives. The essays draw from the results of the NDP Assessment Report published earlier this year. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo co-authored the essay "Agriculture and land reform: How far are we from an integrated and inclusive rural economy?" with Prof. Johann Kirsten. Please click here to access the collection of essays.
A proposal to end the Covid-19 pandemic
Many countries have stepped up in the global fight against the pandemic, as have institutions such as the World Health Organization, the World Bank, Gavi (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), the African Union, and others. Yet, more than a year into the Covid-19 crisis, new cases worldwide are higher than ever. Urgent action is needed to arrest the rising human toll and economic strain. As the IMF has warned, economic recoveries are diverging dangerously. The disparities will widen further between wealthy countries that have widespread access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, and poorer countries still struggling to inoculate frontline healthcare workers. As of the end of April 2021, less than two percent of Africa’s population had been vaccinated. By contrast, over 40 percent of the population in the United States and over 20 percent in Europe had received at least one dose of the vaccine. The IMF states that ending the pandemic is a solvable problem but requires further coordinated global action. Please click here to peruse the IMF proposals.
Invitation for nominations and applications for the appointment of CEO at Agbiz
Our esteemed chief executive officer, Dr John Purchase, is retiring at the end of 2021. Dr Purchase has been CEO of Agbiz since 2007, and his leadership, commitment and expertise will be sorely missed. All Agbiz stakeholders are invited to participate in appointing a new CEO. Please click here for more information on the required qualifications and competencies. Please send your nominations or application to Annelize van Rensburg at Signium: annelize.vanrensburg@signium.co.za.
A new chance for genetically engineered crops
The European Union is reviewing its rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with an eye to loosening restrictions on genetically engineered (GE) crops. It is a welcome move, and African countries should consider emulating it. There are fewer controversial topics in global agriculture. Many worry that GE crops have adverse environmental and health effects, and that they risk undermining food sovereignty, as the handful of corporations making the seeds can gain undue power over global agricultural output – and the farmers who produce it. It is because of these fears that the EU and most African countries currently restrict the cultivation of GE crops. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published on Project Syndicate.
Maize prices remain high as exports and feedstock take toll
Southern African output is expected to rise but maize prices are at export parity levels and global markets need to slow for domestic prices to fall. In regular seasons a sizeable domestic maize harvest would ordinarily lead to a decline in prices. But South Africa’s 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 maize production seasons have not been ordinary. The second-largest maize harvest on record in the 2019/2020 production season did not lead to a notable decline in prices as some might have expected. The weaker exchange rate, combined with increasing demand for South Africa’s maize in the Far East and Southern Africa, and generally higher global prices provided support to the domestic maize prices throughout 2020 and into the beginning of 2021. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published in Business Day.
Will Zimbabwe's decision to ban maize imports affect South Africa's maize market?
Maize was South Africa’s fifth-largest exported agricultural product in value terms in 2020. It trailed citrus, grapes, wine and apples, which were the top four products in the overall US$10,2 billion worth of South Africa's agricultural products exported last year. The total agricultural export earnings in 2020 were the second-largest on record in value terms. The export markets were quite diverse, nearly half spread across the African continent, and a third, in the European Union and the rest spread across Asia and the Americas regions. For maize, Zimbabwe was the most dominant export market for South Africa. In the 2,6 million tonnes of maize that South Africa exported within the 2020/21 marketing year, which started in May 2020 and ended in April 2021, about 20% of the volume went to Zimbabwe. This made Zimbabwe the single largest maize export market for South Africa in the 2020/21 marketing year. Wandile Sihlobo elaborates on this in the linked article, written for and first published on Fin24.
JSE publishes amended detailed agricultural contract specifications
Further to Market Notice 123A/2021 and 123B/2021, the JSE is pleased to report it is finally in a position to publish the amended Detailed Agricultural Contract Specifications following an extensive review and comment period. Please take note these amended specifications will be adopted with immediate effect. "We would again like to express our sincere gratitude to every stakeholder who participated during this review period and for the many suggestions and comments received. It is unfortunate that we could not accommodate all of these, some for practical reasons and others that will remain discussion points as we engage stakeholders." There were no major changes made with the final version, except for corrections to layout issues and then a clarification to Appendix C, point 5.2 where a three-month period was inserted requiring storage operators to keep out-loading schedules for this period. With the increased audit activities currently underway these out-loading schedules form part of the audit reports for the same month and so the JSE was comfortable including this. Please click here to peruse.
Invitation to B4SA business briefing: vaccine rollout, private sector capacity, workplace health sites and EVDS
Business for South Africa (B4SA) invites you to a short interactive briefing on Friday, 28 May at 12:30 on the progress of the national vaccination programme, increasing private sector capacity and a workplace health sites update. Dr Nicholas Crisp, deputy director general at the National Department of Health will also provide an update and take questions on the EVDS system and the roll-out of the vaccine programme. There will be a short presentation, followed by a question and answer session with B4SA leaders and Dr Crisp. Please click here to register for the Zoom meeting.
Why full dams don’t mean water security: a look at South Africa
After good summer rains, the dams that supply water to Johannesburg and much of South Africa’s economic heartland are full. This, then, is the time to start worrying about water supplies. It may sound odd but it’s a lesson learnt from cities across the world over the past two decades. Whether it was Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, Chennai in India, Barcelona in Spain or São Paulo in Brazil, we have seen that, too often, water crises occur because societies don’t take action until it’s already too late. South Africa had that experience with its day zero crisis in Cape Town between 2015 and 2019. Nelson Mandela Bay, in the Eastern Cape, is currently providing more evidence. Despite being advised for more than a decade that its supply infrastructure was inadequate, the municipality did not act and now the dams are almost empty. The immediate question is whether Johannesburg and the rest of Gauteng and the surrounding region can avoid that experience. Prof. Mike Muller, visiting adjunct professor at School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, discusses this subject in the linked article, first published on The Conversation.
BUSA Covid-19 cargo movement update
This BUSA Covid-19 Cargo movement update – the 39th of its kind – contains a consolidated overview of the South African supply chain and the current state of international trade. In summary, the macroeconomic landscape appears to grow from strength to strength, even though the humanitarian crisis is far from over. Continued operational constraints remain a feature on the micro front, particularly with regard to the ocean-faring economy. The collective industry has collaboratively put forward several solutions to combat some of these constraints. While the country's optimism remains a hallmark, it needs to be accompanied by tangible and sustained economic results. Please click here to peruse.
SA wine harvest report 2021 - slow and steady wins the race
Wine lovers from across the globe can enjoy outstanding wines from a much cooler and later 2021 wine grape season in South Africa. This according to the annual South African Wine Harvest Report 2021. “It seems as though the vines really took their time to prepare this year’s harvest,” says Conrad Schutte, consultation service manager of the wine industry body Vinpro. “Moderate weather throughout the season, and specifically during harvest time, resulted in grapes ripening slower, while developing exceptional colour and flavour.” The 2021 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 461 599 tonnes, according to the latest estimate of industry body SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information and Systems) on 19 May 2021. It is 8.9% larger than the 2020 harvest. Please click here to peruse.
Sugar high: SA canegrowers could produce 433 million litres of aviation fuel a year
The South African Canegrowers Association (SA Canegrowers) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) are excited to announce the findings of a joint study on the viability of using South African sugarcane to manufacture sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Earlier this month the study was presented to the Value Chain Diversification Task Team established under the Sugar Industry Value Chain Master Plan, which is mandated to develop a medium to long-term strategy for the diversification of the sugarcane value chain. SA Canegrowers has a seat on this task team along with other industry and government stakeholders. Read more in the linked media statement.
The latest copy of Harvest SA
In the latest issue of Harvest SA, find out how innovation and dedication have led to the creation of a specialist agricultural hub at the Durban University of Technology. Read the cover story to find out from Prof. Sibusiso Moyo and her team why incubating student entrepreneurs in the agriculture space is so important and how they are going about commercialising these ventures. Further highlights in this issue include upbeat assessments of agricultural prospects from industry experts like Wandile Sihlobo of Agbiz, insights from thought leaders such as Nico Groenewald of Standard Bank and Unathi Mhlatyana of McCain Foods SA, and an interview with Doug Osler, the Free State Young Farmer of the Year. The Agricultural Research Council shares research on how to boost small farmers, while Agritourism Africa shares insights on how to build a strong agritourism brand.
Senwes celebrates 112 years of impact and renewal
Senwes Village
At Senwes, we constantly imagine the future for ourselves, so that we as an agribusiness can bring the future to the fore for our customers. With these words, Francois Strydom, Group CEO, ushered in Senwes' 112th year of existence on 15 May 2021. Over the course of 112 years, the group has not only succeeded in redefining the future of the company but also in influencing the broad South African agricultural sector in an innovative and unique Senwes way to strengthen the overall agricultural value chain. The history of Senwes can be traced back to the autumn of 1909 when 24 producers gathered to discuss the idea of a co-operative in the then Western Transvaal. Please click here to read more.
Capespan launches South African local market distributor
Capespan, the multinational producer and marketer of fresh fruit, has announced the launch of Capespan Izithelo, a new marketing venture that will focus on servicing the local South African retail market. Capespan Izithelo is a joint venture between Capespan and its South African broad-based BEE employees trust and black management team. The company is majority black-owned and controlled. Capespan’s managing director, Tonie Fuchs, explained that “Izithelo” means “fruits” in isiZulu and he is extremely excited about this new venture. “For many years, Capespan has, from a South African perspective, primarily focused on the export of our core basket of South African fresh fruit. With the increase in production across our core commodities in South Africa, it has become imperative for Capespan to also offer local market solutions to our grower partners. Capespan Izithelo will fulfil this mandate.” Read more in the linked article, first published on FreshPlaza.
How technology is driving farmer profits in the right direction 
Agriculture is currently one of the most dynamic sectors to conduct business in. The expected economic growth rate coupled with the growth of the middle class in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the continent’s untapped agricultural potential present role players in this sector with enormous economic opportunities. Coupled with a good harvest season driven by strong rains this year, this means that many farmers have gone from bust to boom and from famine to feast, with the promise of a second consecutive bumper corn crop due to excellent summer rains and favourable weather. But what can farmers do to improve their profitability? “The natural thought process would be to produce more to earn more,” says Antois van der Westhuizen, managing director at John Deere Financial. “Unfortunately, this is not a statement that can be made lightly, as a lot of farmers are very dependent on weather and rain." Read more in the linked article. 
Diarise 3 June and join the conversation
Agriculture’s positive contribution to the economy was abundantly clear in 2020, and this year is showing great promise. However, with several challenges facing the sector, is it in a position to contribute meaningfully to the South African economy, and do we have what it takes to ensure sustained growth in the medium to long term? Join Nedbank on 3 June 2021 from 9:00 to 10:30 for an agriculture webinar, where speakers - Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), and Dr Tracy Davids, commodity markets and foresight manager at the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) - will present on the following topics:
  • The technical market and production trends of key subsectors, addressing whether and where expansion is possible.
  • The policy environment, what is to come in the next few years and how that will influence agriculture (investors, farmers and consumers).
Please click here to register.
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
1 June 2021 | Session 2: Retail and Demand Perspectives
This session will focus on the effects of the EU Green Deal on retail businesses and consumer demand - including how retailers can prepare their businesses to successfully navigate and operate within the EU Green Deal. Speakers will be announced.
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.

Nedbank webinar
Theme: "Can agriculture save the South African economy?"
3 June 2021 | 9:00-10:30
Register here

Food Safety Summit 2021
8-9 June 2021

NSTF Discussion Forum
Theme: ‘Plant health in South Africa – threats to biosecurity, biodiversity and food security’
10 to 11 June 2021 | Zoom

Sustainability Summit 2021
21-23 September 2021 | Virtual

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

Agbiz Congress 2021
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.
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