29 January 2021
Government engagement on the impact of the alcohol sales ban on ag-industry
This past week Agbiz facilitated broad alcohol industry, including Vinpro, Distell and Beer SA, engagement through Nedlac’s Liquor Industry Task Team, as well as with Minister Didiza, on the socio-economic impact of the alcohol sales ban on the alcohol industry, but also specifically on the impact on upstream agricultural industries such as wine grape producers, wineries, barley producers and grain handlers. Industry has continuously called for an evidenced-based and risk-adjusted strategy in this time of the pandemic, and again now as we respond to the so-called second wave of Covid-19 and the new variant. Please click on this link titled Alcohol Industry Value Chain to peruse the extraordinary damage the industry is facing. Vinpro, representing the wine farmers, has also embarked on legal action to lift the ban on the risk-adjusted and evidence-based approach. The Vinpro media statement and legal letter released in this regard are linked for noting.
 IMF staff completes virtual staff visit to South Africa
A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Ana Lucía Coronel, held virtual meetings with the South African authorities during January 2021 to discuss recent economic developments and the outlook in the context of its regular surveillance activities. At the end of the visit, the IMF issued a statement. “South Africa has been hit very hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, output contracted sharply, and employment losses were significant, despite the authorities’ timely actions to support the most vulnerable groups and affected businesses. Public finances also suffered severely, with the budget deficit and public debt increasing significantly amid the recession and pandemic-related expenses. The resurgence of infections and the protracted vaccination procurement and distribution processes, as elsewhere, will likely weigh on the economic recovery this year, notwithstanding improved external conditions." Please click IMF statement to read the full statement.
 Government support is vital as countries race to vaccinate
The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating in many countries and uncertainty is unusually high. Decisive government actions are necessary to ensure swift and extensive vaccine rollouts, protect the most vulnerable households and otherwise viable firms, and foster a durable and inclusive recovery. Many countries have continued to support people and firms amid the resurgence of infections and renewed restrictions, while calibrating their responses to the evolving economic situation. The January 2021 Fiscal Monitor Update provides an overview of such efforts and outlines what more governments can do to achieve a greener, fairer, and more durable recovery. Read more in the linked IMF blog post.
Conservation of natural resources key, but take care not to bureaucratise farm management
This month, the Directorate of Soil Management in the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will be receiving inputs on the draft Farm Planning Regulations published under the Conservation of Agricultural Resource Act. You may be forgiven for missing this publication as it was gazetted on 24 December 2020, the same time most of us were basting turkeys and preparing for the evening's festivities. In a nutshell, the draft regulations seek to introduce a system of Farm Plans whereby the provincial department of agriculture can ensure that agricultural activities do not degrade the farm's natural resources. As per the draft, the regulations will apply to all land currently used for agricultural production (or which may be used for agricultural production in the future), with the exception of urban or conservation land specified in the Act. Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff discusses this subject in the linked article.
Agbiz discusses the principle of expropriation and the draft Expropriation Bill
In the linked interview that was aired on the early-morning television programme Grootplaas, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence discussed the principle of expropriation, as well as the draft Expropriation Bill currently under consideration by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure. The Bill has been published for public comments which are due by 10 February 2021. The Agbiz office has compiled a draft input for members’ consideration. For information on the Agbiz document, please contact Theo Boshoff at theo@agbiz.co.za.
Cyclone Eloise's damage could have implications for South Africa's maize price outlook
At the start of the year, Wandile Sihlobo expressed an optimistic view that South Africa’s maize prices could begin to soften from about the end of February, as this is the time when more information about the expected sizeable domestic harvest would become available. A decline in commodity prices would be beneficial to the livestock industry, which has had to battle with higher feed prices over the past couple of months. The prospect of a large crop was as much a South Africa story as it was a broader Southern African one. Hence, I believed demand for South African maize exports to the Southern Africa region could also soften in the 2021/2022 marketing year, thereby easing some pressure on domestic prices Read more in the linked article by Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published in Business Day.
Agriculture has blossomed without much support from the government
From the reconstruction and development programme of Nelson Mandela to the accelerated and shared growth initiative of Thabo Mbeki, the national development plan of Jacob Zuma and most recently the economic reconstruction and recovery plan of President Cyril Ramaphosa, agriculture has long been tipped as a key generator of jobs and economic activity in rural South Africa. For agriculture to live up to these expectations, it requires a stable, predictable and conducive policy environment. It has not always been clear that South African agriculture is blessed with this. It is therefore remarkable that the value of the country’s agricultural output has more than doubled in real terms since 1994, though employment has trended downwards slightly. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published in Business Day.
Agriculture's contribution to SA's food needs
South African producers cannot compete with the world prices at which countries such as Canada and Australia export wheat. In South Africa, a net importing country of wheat, however, a Big Mac burger is significantly cheaper, which means a lower cost of living. The Big Mac Index gives the value of a Big Mac burger in US dollar for 56 countries worldwide. If you compare the selling price of a Big Mac burger in South Africa with its price in other countries in dollars, South Africa's selling price is the fourth cheapest in the world. The Big Mac index is therefore a reference point according to which cost of living is measured in different countries. Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer elaborates on this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Landbouweekblad.
Land Bank fingered as the weak link in financial stability of sector
The liquidity and management challenges at the Land Bank and their negative implication for the agricultural sector at large could potentially have a greater impact on the sector than that of the Covid-19 pandemic, if not resolved, national head of Nedbank Agriculture John Hudson said in an interview last week. In December, the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of SA, which was bailed out by the government in 2020 after it defaulted on debt, reported a R172 million loss for the six months to September 30. Hudson cautioned that farmers, agribusinesses and intermediaries who required financing from the Land Bank would continue to encounter difficulties in accessing such funding due to the bank’s current longstanding liquidity challenges. Read more in the linked article first published on msn.com.
Alcohol ban: Restaurant Association stages protest
Members of the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) are camped outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against the ongoing alcohol ban that is having a detrimental impact on several industries. Wendy Alberts, the CEO of RASA, indicated the protest would continue until President Ramaphosa agrees to meet. “This will be my office until the president talks to me and the rest of our constituency and stakeholders,” said Alberts on Wednesday, January 28 – her third day of protest outside the entrance to government, according to TimesLIVE. Meanwhile, role players in the wine industry are preparing to go to court to have the alcohol ban overturned. Read more in the linked article, first published on Capetownnetc.com.
Minister Didiza calls on agri sector to prioritise safe transportation of farmworkers
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, calls upon the agricultural sector to prioritise the safe transportation of farmworkers. This minister’s call comes following yet another accident involving farmworkers on the R44 before the Durbanville off-ramp en route to Wellington involving almost 80 seasonal farmworkers injured in a truck accident in the Western Cape. The minister is concerned as a similar accident occurred when about 40 farmworkers, all seemingly female, were being transported on a four-ton truck from Meerlust farm in De Doorns to Worcester via the N1 where a woman was killed. Please click here to read the full DALRRD media statement.
 BUSA Covid-19: Cargo movement update
The BUSA Covid 19: Cargo movement update - the 22nd update - contains a combined overview of air, sea, and road freight to and from South Africa in the last week. Since the previous version, new cases of Covid-19 have remained elevated during the second-wave surge, averaging approximately 11 975 per day (down from 18 031 during the previous week). Luckily, it seems that the worse of the second wave has passed, although we are far from safe just yet. It also appears that a third wave cannot be ruled out. To illustrate the point, the total number of deaths has now surpassed 2 million globally. On a more positive note, several countries are continuing with their aggressive vaccination roll-outs. As of writing, 0.73% of the world's population has now been vaccinated. Please click here to peruse.
Wet conditions prevail after Eloise tracked inland
With the remnants of tropical cyclone Eloise now situated over southern Botswana and the northeastern parts of the Northern Cape in the form of a tropical low, the situation with regard to rainfall for the interior has improved tremendously as expected. The track of the tropical system after making landfall on Saturday was indeed very favourable for widespread rain over much of the northeastern parts of the country as the system crossed southwestwards over Limpopo towards southern Botswana. Most of the country to the east of the track received widespread rainfall while flooding occurred over the Lowveld – a region particularly prone to the effects of tropical systems from the southwest Indian Ocean. Please click Cumulus for a seasonal weather overview compiled by AgriSeker.
Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi world's worst hit by climate change 
Five African countries: Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Sudan, and Niger, are among the world’s top 10 nations to be the worst affected by climate change through disruptions to productivity in key economic sectors including agriculture, roads, dams, and other infrastructure according to the new Global Climate Index 2021 released by Germanwatch. These impacts from extreme weather events such as cyclones and flooding have exerted extra economic pressures on local economies as already strained governments and development partners have to quickly provision for emergency funding requirements to rebuild destroyed infrastructure and respond to the immediate needs of affected citizens. Zimbabwe alone needed as much as $1.1 billion to support infrastructure rebuilding and support livelihoods after Cyclone Idai in 2019. This means infrastructure development elsewhere is crippled while humanitarian organizations have to re-direct longer term development funds to emergency response for food insecurity. Read more in the linked article, first published on Quartz Africa.
Potatoes SA appoints Willie Jacobs as new CEO
Willie Jacobs took over the leadership of Potatoes SA (PSA) as chief executive officer (CEO) after Dr André Jooste, who as part of his career planning, left the organisation after nine years. The PSA board of directors is confident that Willie Jacobs, with his expertise and experience as an agricultural economist, will build and expand on the legacy of Dr Jooste. Willie officially took up office on Monday 18 January 2021. He studied BSc Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State and obtained an MBA at North-West University. Read more in the linked PSA media statement.
Latest issue of Harvest SA available now
The January/February 2021 issue of Harvest SA is now available. Please click here to access the digital edition jam-packed with the latest news from the agricultural industry.
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.
Second International Congress of Biological Control (ICBC2) 
26-30 April 2021 | Davos, Switzerland

 2020 AgriAllAfrica Agribusiness Conference - POSTPONED TO 2021
Theme: "Imagined responses to Covid-19: Progress with the development of solutions"
6 May 2021 | CSIR | Pretoria 
Enquiries: Marianna.duplessis@gmail.com | +27 063 076 9135
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