26 March 2021
Agbiz presents to the Portfolio Committee on the Expropriation Bill
On Thursday 25 March, Agbiz delivered a joint presentation with BUSA on the Expropriation Bill to the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure. The presentation was well received and indicated that the members will need to study the presentation in detail and deliberate on some of the amendments proposed. The committee will also embark on physical public hearings in the provinces from 8 April and indicated that organisations who were not given a chance to present during this session may again be afforded an opportunity in June. The public hearings were live-streamed and we have included a link to the session where Agbiz presented. The presentation is also linked.
Country report on Covid-19 launched in 2020

The first edition of the Covid-19 Country Report – a project led by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in collaboration with GTAC (Government Technical Advisory Centre) and the NRF – will be presented to government on 31 March 2021. The report aims to record measures that government implemented, together with social partners, to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Lessons learnt i.e. successes, challenges and failures of the country in implementing various interventions to save lives and protect the livelihoods of South Africans will be documented. Approximately 80 authors have been appointed, all with specific fields of expertise to contribute to this report. It should be available publicly at end of April. Both the interim report dated 4 December 2020 and a short presentation made to government on 7 December 2020 are available here. Please note that the final report for 31 March 2021 contains additional information, not included in the interim report. Earlier, GTAC's Marié Kirsten spoke to Dr David Makhado, DPME's coordinator of the Covid-19 Country Report about the origin of the report, about the multi-dimensional team compiling it and about how the report will be shared and disseminated. Read the interview here.
Rising fuel prices likely to add cost pressures on the SA farming sector
The lower oil prices in 2020 kept South Africa’s agricultural input costs at reasonably lower levels in 2020. But this year will not be the same; the Brent crude oil price has recovered from lower levels last seen this period last year when the pandemic hit the world, and there was heightened uncertainty about the economic conditions. On 18 March 2021, the Brent crude oil price was up by 125% y/y, trading around US$63,48 per barrel. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked blog post.
BRICS countries offer export opportunities to SA's booming agricultural sector
South African agricultural stakeholders want to increase exports to BRIC(S) countries. This message came sharply in a hybrid event the Agricultural Business Chamber of SA (Agbiz) had with its members, commodity organisations and government representatives on 19 March. The event's primary focus was to explore how South Africa's agriculture and agribusiness sectors could gain more traction within BRICS. This theme is premised on the observation that South Africa's agricultural sector is expanding and is ripe to contest more international markets. Wandile Sihlobo shares his views on this subject in the linked article.
There is more room for upward adjustment on SA crop production estimates
South Africa's Crop Estimates Committee mildly lifted its estimates for 2020/21 summer crop production from last month by 1% to 18,7 million tonnes (this compared with 17,6 million tonnes in 2019/20 production season). The upward adjustments were mainly on maize, soybeans and sorghum, whereas sunflower seed, dry bean and groundnut production estimates were revised down from the previous month. Nevertheless, the downward adjustments were overshadowed by the upward adjustments, hence on a net basis, the summer crop production estimate is up from last month. Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked blog post.
Employment creation potential, labour skills requirements and skill gaps for young people 
Structural change is taking place in Africa, but with a pattern that is distinct from the historical experience of the industrialised countries and contemporary East Asia: In short, export-led manufacturing is playing a much smaller role in the structural transformation of Africa’s economies. Services - some with quite low productivity - absorb the bulk of African workers leaving agriculture and moving to cities. These changes reflect the impact of technological progress and a changing global marketplace on Africa’s prospects of industrialization. Read the full article, first published on brookings.edu.
Unpacking the misconceptions about Africa's food imports 
Sub-Saharan Africa’s spiraling food import bill - which stood at $43 billion in 2019 - has attracted mounting attention as a worrisome trend. For years, many pundits have wondered why Africa seems increasingly unable to feed itself, despite having much of the world’s remaining unutilised arable land.
This alarming narrative is largely inaccurate. Research, which disaggregates sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) agricultural trade performance by country and type, shows that four countries - Nigeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Somalia - account for most of SSA’s net agricultural import position. The rest of the countries in the region are actually net agricultural exporters. This is good news not only today, but for Africa’s future economic growth through trade, as explained in the linked article, first published on brookings.edu.
Invitation to the third meeting of B4SA's Business Communicators' Forum
The third meeting of Business for South Africa’s (B4SA) Business Communicators’ Forum (BCF) for Vaccine/Covid-19 Communications will take place on Friday, 26 March from 11:00 to 12:00. The aim of B4SA’s Business Communicators’ Forum (BCF) is to offer periodic, short, and focused meetings for senior corporate affairs/communications executives from listed, private or multinational businesses and business associations and mobilise business/business associations to use their communications channels to combat Covid-19 and support the national vaccination programme. Please follow this link for the BCF Zoom meeting.
Berry bonanza: SA blueberry exports soared in 2020 despite impact of Covid-19
Blueberries have long now been hailed as a superfood. But did you know that South African producers are making their mark internationally?Exports increased by more than 27% in 2020, despite the impact of Covid-19. They've grown from less than 1 800 tonnes in 2015 to over 15 000 tonnes says Justin Mudge, chairperson of BerriesZA. The South African Berry Producers Association (Sabpa) has been re-launched as BerriesZA "in recognition of the industry's growing strength on the world stage". Bruce Whitfield interviewed Mudge on The Money Show. Read more in the linked article first published on msn.com.
SA table grape industry considered healthy and will continue to prosper
Table grapes
The South African table grape industry has been growing for some time, and that trend is expected to continue, according to speakers at the latest monthly broadcast by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Southern Africa in partnership with Beanstalk.Global. Clayton Swart, manager communications and market development at the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI), said despite a challenging 2020/2021 season, SATI estimates that 70 million cartons (4.5kg) might be reached for the first time in its history. He explained that the geographic diversity of South Africa has the advantage that good harvesting conditions in one region could compensate for losses in another region. Read more in the linked PMA media statement.
More rain before a drier period
Another spell of widespread showers or thundershowers is expected during the next few days, but it should clear from the west by Thursday or Friday. It should be dry and clear by the weekend across the interior while a cold front may bring some rain over the southern winter rainfall region together with some rain also along the southern to eastern coastal belt. Read more and get a seasonal overview in the latest edition of Cumulus, compiled by AgriSeker.
Vaccinations are critical to eliminating canine rabies in South Africa
KwaZulu-Natal has reported a spike in rabies cases, and the lives of two children in the area have been claimed. It has been estimated that rabies kills one person every 10 minutes globally. The tragedy lies in the fact that these deaths are completely preventable. It is important to note that South Africa has two types of rabies, rabies in dogs and a different subtype circulating in mongoose. According to information available, at least 39 animal rabies cases have been confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal and 17 in the Eastern Cape since the beginning of the year. This does not include the figures of the other South African provinces, and the worst part is that there are many cases that go unreported. Read more in the linked Afrivet media statement.
New season: optimism from emerging farmers after prolonged alcohol ban
Covid-19 regulations and the subsequent ban on alcohol sales, have had a massive impact on farm development and support programmes especially in the wine and liquor industries. FarmSol, has nevertheless seen a rise in the number of profitable farmers on their books, with their total pay-out increasing from R16,5 million in 2019 to R19,5 million
in 2020. Aron Kole, managing director of FarmSol says that uncertainties caused by the alcohol ban left them downscaling support from their planned hectares. The company also had to implement salary cuts, stopped bonus payments, and put moratoriums on vacant positions. Read more in the linked FarmSol media statement.
Get the latest news from the FPEF
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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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