23 April 2021
Agribusiness during Covid: how leadership creates winning strategiesies
The year 2020 will forever be defined by the massive disruption that the Covid-19 pandemic had across the board and around the world, says Dr John Purchase, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz). The immediate response in South Africa was a hard lockdown that restricted movement and any form of a gathering of people. "Food products and services were deemed essential goods and services, and much of the sector could continue with operations, albeit in an extremely difficult and disrupted environment,” says Dr Purchase, noting too that certain agricultural and agro-processing sectors were deemed non-essential, including alcohol-based industries (especially wine), floriculture, the fibre and tobacco industries and more. “From the very outset of the initial hard lockdown, it became clear that some authorities had underestimated the hugely significant role the informal sector plays in food distribution and convenient availability through hawkers, vendors, spaza shops, and others.” Director of Signium Africa, executive search and agribusiness talent specialist Annelize van Rensburg and Dr Purchase both agree that to come out the other side of this unprecedented disruption as well as the country did, does not happen by accident. Please click here to read the full article co-authored by Dr John Purchase and Annelize van Rensburg, first published on My Pressportal.
B4SA vaccination programme briefing 
On Friday 16 April 2021, Business for South Africa (B4SA), supported by the National Department of Health (NDoH), held a briefing on the national vaccination programme and the latest developments. The session included an update on B4SA and its alignment with the NDoH by Martin Kingston, chair of the B4SA Steering Committee and an overview of vaccine supply and the progress of the phase 1 healthcare worker vaccinations by Stavros Nicolaou B4SA, chair of B4SA Health Working Group. Dr Guni Goolab and Dr Lungi Nyathi from B4SA’s service delivery platforms explained the transition to phase 2 and scaling up our national vaccination capacity with a focus on employer sites and the requirements and process for site registration. President of the Southern African Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Prof. Barry Jacobson, then discussed the temporary suspension of the Johnson & Johnson phase 3B study and expanded on the science, process and (minimal) risks of the vaccine compared to Covid-19 itself. Milani Wolmarans, chief director: National Programme Manager EVDS, then demonstrated and explained the electronic vaccination data system (EVDS). Following the presentations, there was an interactive question and answer session with all speakers, including Roseanne Harris, B4SA Financing and Funding Flows who answered medical aid related questions. The presentations are available here, and to view a video recording of the webinar, please follow this link.
South Africa’s failed land reforms and the road ahead
Why has land reform been such a failure in South Africa? Will expropriation without compensation solve the problem? What can be done to get the land programme back on track? In his new book, Adv. Tembeka Ngcukaitobi tackles these questions, and more. Going back in history, he shows how Africans’ communal land ownership was used by colonial rulers to deny that Africans owned the land at all. He explores the effect of the Land Acts, Bantustans and forced removals. And he considers the ANC’s policies on land throughout the twentieth century, during the negotiations of the 1990s, and in government. Land Matters unpacks developments in land redistribution, restitution and tenure reform, and makes suggestions for what needs to be done in the future. The book also considers the power of chiefs, the tension between communal land ownership and the desire for a private title, the failure of the willing-buyer, willing-seller approach, women and land reform, the role of banks, and the debates around amending the Constitution. The Wits School of Governance hosted the book launch of Land matters - South Africa's failed land reforms and the road ahead. Please click here to watch.
Failure to implement land reforms may point to policy design flaws
Reading Luyolo Mkentane’s article on farm evictions took me on a rollercoaster of emotion (“Thoko Didiza bows to pressure to stop farm evictions”, Business Day of 13 April 2021). We don’t know the exact circumstances surrounding these evictions. However, if the article is correct and bona fide land reform beneficiaries have been forced to vacate productive farms, it is cause for concern. Readers might be upset to hear about the treatment these successful black farmers have endured, then relieved to hear that interventions to bring justice are being made. Finally, sadness and frustration set in when one realises that nothing is stopping the same thing from happening again. Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Agriculture master plan hinges on the logistics industry
The agricultural sector remains a net exporter, with exportable volumes of various commodities growing annually, weather conditions permitting. The export value of $10.2bn in 2020 was the second-largest on record, after $10.7bn in 2018.
Aside from the regulations and trade agreements that allow South Africa’s agricultural sector to enjoy this excellent export performance, the logistics industry is at the heart of the success of the past few years. The expansion of exports speaks to the resilience and dynamism of the sector, from handling facilities to transport (road and rail) and the shipping ports. This is not to suggest there have been no challenges; the industry experiences them constantly. However, the role players have pushed through and managed to move commodities for export markets successfully. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo explores this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Africa is not a good maize export market for SA farmers right now
The favourable agricultural season for most African countries has not reached the corners of Kenya sufficiently. Kenya is one of the few African countries that will likely remain significant maize importers in the 2021/22 marketing year. Several countries such as Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Ethiopia expect a large domestic harvest, which should reduce the import needs compared to the previous season and place some at the net exporting position. A report released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 12, 2021, indicates that Kenya's 2020/21 maize production would likely increase marginally from the previous season to 4,0 million tonnes (this production year corresponds with the 2021/22 marketing year). Please click here to read the complete article, written for and first published on Fin24.
Communication is a crucial part of policymaking
South Africa’s agricultural sector is finalising the sector master plan. The final consultations with constituencies of various social partners - comprising industry, government, labour and civil society - will soon begin, after which the master plan will be signed off. This document will serve as a guide for inclusive growth in the sector. An important pillar of the master plan should be an effective communication strategy and a clear monitoring and evaluation framework. This is important for ensuring there is a shared understanding of its ultimate objectives, and that the achievement of these is continuously monitored. Wandile Sihlobo shares his insights in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Staff at silo complexes make an immeasurable contribution
The grain industry's total value chain relies on competent staff in the storage sector at silo complexes. They are essential for the good and efficient functioning of the market, and must therefore be nurtured. "I am thinking specifically of the grain silo managers, graders and the staff at silo complexes, and the sometimes invisible role they play." Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Landbouweekblad.
Drought in Angola could have severe consequences for food security
The drought in Angola is expected to significantly reduce cereal production and pasture availability, with severe consequences for food security in 2021, according to a report by the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) of the Markets and Trade Division of FAO. It states that significant rainfall deficits and high temperatures during the 2020/21 cropping season have negatively impacted cereal crop and pasture conditions in key producing southwestern and central provinces. In addition, food insecurity in 2021 is expected to deteriorate in the affected areas, particularly in southwestern provinces that experienced poor agricultural seasons in previous years. Please click here to peruse.
President Ramaphosa reports on his visit to the Port of Durban in his newsletter
In President Ramaphosa's weekly newsletter - From the desk of the President - published earlier this week, he reported on his visit to the Port of Durban the previous week to ascertain the work being done to make the port more efficient and competitive. "Seeing the workings of the port from the water, one is reminded of its vast scale and complexity. As we left the pier, we watched the African Finch, an enormous vessel laden with over 30 000 tonnes of timber, depart from the terminal. A vessel of this size carries immense economic value, and many such vessels pass through the port every day. If the port does not function efficiently, the entire economy suffers, from importers and exporters to consumers. On the other hand, if the port works well it can drive economic growth and position our country as a gateway to the region and the continent. Please click here to peruse.
President Ramaphosa says Transnet will spend R100 billion to modernise Durban Port
Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan were in Durban port to assess its efficiency. The president stated that the Durban port of entry has a future master plan to create 180 000 jobs. The president said: “What is more pleasing is that they are making plans for the future. They are already looking at 2032 and putting forward a plan which is going to require R100 billion to invest and which will create up to 180 000 types of jobs. The plans fit in very well with the reforms that we have been talking about, but we want to see reforms that will also impact on how our ports function.” This comes as the Durban port has been dealt a blow by goods delays that have negatively impacted the business sector. It also forms part of his Operation Vulindlela, which seeks to see the port become a global shipping hub. Please click here to read to complete article, first published on FreshPlaza.
TIPS Import Tracker gives overview of import patterns in Q4, 2020
Although declining slightly compared to the third quarter of 2020, South Africa maintained a high trade surplus in the fourth quarter of 2020, at R103 billion. Year on year, this marks a more than 300% increase in the trade surplus compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The surplus is the result of low imports and high exports. This has been the case over the last three quarters in particular as South Africa and its trade partners continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic that began spreading in January 2020.TIPS Import Tracker provides an overview of import patterns and looks at the causes of surges in imports, and their likely impact on the industry. Please click here to peruse.
Hortgro 1662 Industry Award goes to Buks Nel and Henk Griessel
The formidable duo, Buks Nel and Henk Griessel, are this year’s recipients of the coveted Hortgro 1662 Industry Award for their invaluable contribution to the South African deciduous fruit industry. The 1662 Industry Award was initiated by Hortgro to celebrate the first two Witte Wijnappels that were picked at the Company’s Garden on 17 April 1662 and to recognise the humble beginnings of the deciduous fruit industry on the southern tip of Africa. Every year on this day Hortgro endeavours to honour individuals who went above and beyond what is required for the industry. Hortgro executive director, Anton Rabe, said the type of individual/groups we wish to honour and recognise through the 1662 Industry Award is best described with words such as excellence, fearlessness, visionary, leadership, world-class, competence, and a “do-it-yourself” mindset. Read more in the linked Hortgro media statement.
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.
Food Safety Summit 2021
8-9 June 2021

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.
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.