9 April 2021
Auditor-general addresses BUSA  
The recently appointed auditor-general, Tsakani Maluleke, engaged BUSA members on national and provincial audit outcomes, including on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), this week. From an agriculture and agribusiness perspective the indication of concern around especially Land Bank and ARC being sustainable business entities has to be noted. Business will in future work closer with the office of the auditor-general to ensure greater collaboration on a couple of identified focus areas. Please click here to view Ms Maluleke's presentation.
SA's vaccination plan for the next 10 months

What do we know about South Africa's Covid vaccines roll-out timelines so far? The Bhekisisa Health Journalism Centre - an independent media organisation that specialises in narrative, solutions journalism focusing on health and social justice issues across Africa - has created a timeline for the roll-out of Covid vaccines. Please click here to peruse. For science-based analyses and features on the pandemic, follow Bhekisisa on Twitter or subscribe to their newsletter http://bit.ly/20aLIdR
Expropriation debates mask the excellent work being done behind the scenes to support agricultural growth
There is renewed debate about Section 25 of the Constitution and the Expropriation Bill. Recently, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works hosted public hearings on the Expropriation Bill whilst the committee tasked to "make explicit what is implicit" in Section 25 of the Constitution continued with their public hearings. The outcome will have implications on public sentiment. In the linked interview on PlaasTV, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff gives perspective on the debate and explains why Agbiz hopes that it will not detract from initiatives to drive growth and expansion in South Africa's agriculture.
Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act – a legal-historical context, and points of contention
There are grave concerns about the legislature and the executive rewriting an apartheid-era inherited piece of legislation into a constitutionally permissible format while ignoring the more fundamental issue of overhauling South Africa’s tenure recordal and registration system. While the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act (Amendment Bill), currently before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), is necessary to reduce the impact on the erasure of certain tenure rights, particularly those held by women, this draft law does not provide a long-term solution to securing tenure in South Africa. This subject is discussed in the linked article, first published in Daily Maverick.
Expropriation debate must not sap energy from the agricultural master plan
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, agribusinesses and various social partners have been hard at work for months crafting the agricultural and agro-processing master plan and, separately, blended finance instruments.
These aim to ignite growth and expansion in the agricultural sector as part of the government’s broader economic reconstruction and recovery plan. Both initiatives are set to be launched in the coming months, while the first phase of the blended finance instrument programme has already started, as evidenced by the recent launch of the R1bn Agri-Industrial Fund by the Industrial Development Corporation in partnership with the department. Agbiz chief economist explores this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Agriculture and land reform: How far are we from an integrated and inclusive rural economy? 
Progress with land reform as per the National Development Plan has been underestimated and, while still slow, is closer to the 30% target than typically believed. In an article, Prof. Johann Kirsten, director of the Bureau for Economic Research, and Wandile Sihlobo state that poor record-keeping by the government has resulted in an underestimation of progress on land reform. "Our estimates - which include restitution, redistribution, private transactions and state procurement - suggest that 13.2-million hectares have already been transferred. Of this area, 3.08-million hectares went to the state and 10.14-million to black owners through private and state-supported transactions (including land restitution)." Please click here to read the complete article, written for and first published in Business Day.
The weather is again a central focus in South Africa's agriculture
The weather will be the main focus in South Africa's agriculture for both summer and winter crops, and to a lesser extent, horticulture in the near term. The summer crop growing areas are approaching a harvest period, with early planted soybeans and sunflower seed already being harvested across the country. In contrast, maize and sorghum harvesting has only started in a few areas, such as the early planted ones in Mpumalanga. The harvesting process requires dry weather conditions, and the same is needed for crops that are already maturing across the country. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published on Fin24.
PMA discusses agtech in South Africa
In episode 19 of the Produce Marketing Association's (PMA) Take on Tech series, Wandile Sihlobo talks about what technology is important in boosting productivity in Africa along with how growing more produce can help address unemployment on the continent. We also hear from two entrepreneurial companies from South Africa who have developed solutions to problems Wandile discusses and have gone global. Greg Whitaker from AgrigateOne discusses how their produce supply chain data systems supply insights to growers and buyers. Vic van den Berg from Aerobotics talks about their intelligent tools for orchards. Please click here to listen to the podcast.
This is how trucks affect smooth grain export
Several logistical problems are experienced in the port of Durban due to a confluence of circumstances. But is there a solution so that this year's record exports of maize and citrus can be managed successfully and efficiently? There is concern about the export logistics for 2021, especially as far as the Durban harbour is concerned. The available maize for export can reach a record 2 million tonnes this year. Citrus exports will also increase significantly. Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Landbouweekblad.
Managing divergent recoveries
It is one year into the Covid-19 pandemic and the global community still confronts extreme social and economic strain as the human toll rises and millions remain unemployed. Yet, even with high uncertainty about the path of the pandemic, a way out of this health and economic crisis is increasingly visible. Thanks to the ingenuity of the scientific community hundreds of millions of people are being vaccinated and this is expected to power recoveries in many countries later this year. Economies also continue to adapt to new ways of working despite reduced mobility, leading to a stronger-than-anticipated rebound across regions. Additional fiscal support in large economies, particularly the United States, has further improved the outlook. Gita Gopinath, economic counsellor and director of the research department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), discusses this topic in the linked IMF blog post.
Towards a viable farm size
An article by Stellenbosch University published in Agrekon aims to propose an improved methodology to determine a viable farm size for potential emerging farmers as land reform beneficiaries. Land reform in South Africa has been criticised because of poor implementation and slow pace, accompanied by poor productivity in redistributed land. To explain this, it has been suggested that commercial farms are too large for emerging farmers who have little or no experience in commercial farming. Thus, there have been calls for measures to make subdivision of land easier and cheaper. Please click here to view the abstract of the article. The complete article is available from Agbiz. Kindly contact Karen Grober at karen@agbiz.co.za.
BUSA Covid-19 update on cargo movement
The 32nd BUSA Covid-19 Cargo Movement Update contains a consolidated overview of the South African supply chain and the current state of international trade. For global trade, the WTO reported this week that prospects for a quick recovery in world trade have improved as merchandise trade expanded more rapidly than expected in the second half of last year.Some small gains have been achieved in some of the high-frequency data while slight losses have been experienced in others. Although the external trading environment is more conducive for increased cargo flows in the long run, South Africa will first need to focus on getting its house in order locally. Consequently, some further trading constraints need to be removed, especially since it appears that most industries are "back to business as usual" despite the ever-present possibility of a third wave of the virus, which will undoubtedly be accompanied by more stringent regulations. Nevertheless, the wider trading community will continue with its resilient approach, as evidenced by recent history. Please click here to peruse.
South Africa's grape crop breaks previous record
The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) has released intake figures which show that two weeks ago the upper end of the crop estimate was already exceeded by the intakes of 71.8 million 4.5kg cartons. This will be the most grapes South Africa has ever produced, helped by a new generation of high-yielding varieties, and well over the 67.5 million 4.5kg cartons attained during the 2016/17 season. Most regions did very well, the Berg River surprising with its two million more cartons (19.2 million) than estimated (17.3 million). And if it weren't for rain in the Orange River region, which cost it some cartons, the crop would've been even bigger. Read more in the linked article on Fresh Plaza.
Days of wine by the barrel are drying up for SA’s farmers and vintners
The South African wine industry as a whole – hectares, production, cellars, consumption – may have shrunk by 10% in the past five years, but the ones who felt the blow the most were the 2 778 grape growers. So said Prof. Nick Vink, emeritus professor at Stellenbosch University’s agricultural economics department. According to Prof. Vink, in the past five years wine production has dropped from 1 200 million litres to 1 100 million litres, and grape production from 1.5 million tonnes in 2014 to 1.4 million tonnes. The number of wine cellars went from 566 to 505 during this time, he said. Read more in the linked article, first published in Daily Maverick.
State and forestry industry lock horns over water laws in wake of pulp sector’s plantation plans
The government and the forestry industry have locked horns in a court case that may have far-reaching implications for South Africa’s water laws and “threaten the entire basis of water-use allocations” to the forestry industry and other major water users. In simple terms, the dispute involves the large volumes of water sucked up by different plantation tree species and the timber industry’s recent drive to convert more of its plantations from pine trees to gum trees because of changing commercial demand. This subject is discussed in the linked article, first published in Daily Maverick.
Minister Didiza appalled at the thuggery in departmental offices in Limpopo
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza is appalled at the thuggery that has taken place at the departmental offices in Limpopo during the early hours of Tuesday morning, 6 April 2021. The incident has been reported to the law enforcement agencies, who are working tirelessly to bring the perpetrators to book. The minister calls on the law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in searching for the perpetrators. The perpetrators made it off with over 100 departmental laptops which were meant to be utilised by the department. The minister calls on those who may have information on the matter to contact the law enforcement agencies. 
Citrus industry looking to open up new markets as exports boom
International demand for South African citrus is going strong. According to the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa , the local industry is expected to export 158.7 million cartons of citrus in 2021. And current projections forecast a 22% increase in exports over the following two years. Bruce Whitfield of 702 interviewed Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa. Please click here to listen to the interview.
Monthly newsletter from Fruit SA
Read the latest news from the fruit industry in the monthly newsletter of Fruit SA. 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.
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.
Sustainable Innovative Producers and Emerging Farmers Agribusiness Conference 2021
30-31 March 2021 | The Capital on the Park, Sandton | Johannesburg

Second International Congress of Biological Control (ICBC2) 
26-30 April 2021 | Virtual

Food Safety Summit 2021
8-9 June 2021

Agbiz Congress 2021
22-24 June 2022 | Sun City
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