27 August 2021
South African leaders have missed a chance to transform rural economies
Expanding irrigation infrastructure, commercialising underutilised communal and reformed land (through the provision of tradable land rights), and targeted support to agricultural subsectors and regions with growth potential could all have transformed the rural economy of the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal. While this may seem obvious, unfortunately, those in leadership have failed to pursue this route. Consequently, economic conditions in the rural areas of these provinces remain poor, and we continue to see migration to the cities. In some cases, such migration is more expensive for the government, which has to contend with the provision of houses, education, health and social needs. The case would have been less dire had efforts been made to transform these provinces’ rural agricultural economies. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Economic and employment indicators and trends in South Africa
The economic recovery stuttered in July as additional obstacles – ranging from violence, looting and damage to property in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng to fallout from a “cyber-attack, security intrusion and sabotage” of the IT network of Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) came to the fore. It is not yet clear what the impact of these developments will be on investment, employment and growth going forward and insurance payments and government support measures might make it harder to isolate and measure their respective impacts. Nevertheless, some economic commentators have lowered forecasts of GDP growth and raised unemployment projections as a consequence. This is the findings of a report prepared in support of the Nedlac Social Partners’ Economic Recovery Action Plan. The report provides a snapshot of key macro-economic and employment trends based on official statistics and other relevant sources of data. Please click here to peruse.
Minister, panel members agree that Eastern Cape holds great agriculture potential
Although the Eastern Cape is a major source of primary agriculture and exports in the country, it is far from living up to its true productive and job-creation potential, Nascence Advisory and Research MD Xhanti Payi said on August 20. The consultancy hosted an Eastern Cape Agriculture Indaba, which unpacked some of the challenges that are hindering the province’s agricultural growth potential. According to data released by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), the Eastern Cape hosts the largest percentage of the country’s livestock – 38% of its goats, 30% of its sheep and 25% of its cattle. It is the most important province when it comes to wool and mohair production, in that it produces more than 15-million kilograms of wool a year and more than half of the world’s mohair. Read more in the linked article, first published on Engineering News.
This map shows the best and worst run municipalities in South Africa
A report prepared for parliament’s portfolio committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) shows that the vast majority of South Africa’s municipalities are in dire financial straits. In a presentation on Wednesday (25 August), officials from the department categorised the country’s major municipalities into four main categories:
  • High-risk dysfunctional (red);
  • Medium risk (orange);
  • Low risk (yellow);
  • Stable (green).
These categories are further considered alongside a number of indicators including their political situation, the state of their governance, their financial management and the level of service delivery. Please click here for the full article, first published on Businesstech.
Agbiz intern gains from Summer Global Youth Forum
The Summer Global Youth Forum primarily focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDG synergies throughout the three weeks duration of the programme. In my view, the programme was a true eye-opener because it challenged my thinking and encouraged me to apply my mind concerning the development and unemployment social issues. According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) (2021), the unemployment status amongst unemployed youth has the highest rating to date. It is worthy to note that the youth unemployment rate in South Africa is the highest when compared to the rest of the world. The findings to me were like a hard pill to swallow because this suggests that youth unemployment, in general, is an area of concern. The programme was, however, designed not only to support youth-seeking employment opportunities but also to go the extra mile to encourage the youth to explore entrepreneurship. Moreover, we were taught the importance of self-employment and the benefits and opportunities therein. In the linked article, Agbiz public policy and advocacy intern, Thapelo Machaba shares her experience of the forum.
South Africa should explore niche fruits and crops in its agriculture growth plan
Agriculture has a vital role to play in SA’s economic reconstruction and recovery path after the Covid-19 shock. The government appreciates the potential of this sector and has thus partnered with the private sector in drafting an Agricultural & Agro-Processing Master Plan. We expect it to be launched in the coming months, and with the commitment and implementation of all social partners, there could be progress. While the broad focus of the plan is crucial when the time for implementation comes the direction will have to be more granular, with a clear indication of interventions to be made to enable growth in the sector. Such interventions will range from infrastructures such as improvements in roads, irrigation facilities and water regulations to aspects of animal health, farm safety, stock theft, and more contentious interventions on land governance. A clear focus on commodities with the potential for growth but that has not featured as prominently as crops such as maize, citrus, and wine grapes are also required. One such commodity is the kiwi fruit. Read more in the linked article by Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo and Louw Pienaar, senior agricultural economist at BFAP.
SA agricultural employment rebounds in Q2, 2021
After falling to the lowest levels since 2014 in the first quarter of this year, South Africa's agricultural employment rebounded in the second quarter to 862 000 (up 8% year on year). This is unsurprising because of bumper harvests on field crops and horticulture this season. Moreover, the second quarter of each year is a period of higher activity in most agricultural industries, with harvesting under way, which requires increased labour. Notably, the scenario of higher agricultural commodity prices in a year of large harvests also boosted farmers' incomes and, therefore, could retain and increase employment, even if seasonal.
From a regional perspective, except for the Western Cape and Mpumalanga, agricultural employment increased in the second quarter of 2021 compared with the corresponding period in 2020. In the linked article, Wandile Sihlobo gives his insights on the latest data.
South Africa's fuel prices to remain at higher levels in September 2021
The planting season for South Africa's 2021/22 summer grains and oilseeds begins in October. While the weather outlook is favourable with prospects of a weak La Niña, which should bring above-normal rainfall, there are concerns about the rising input costs. We have recently written about the fertilizer and agrochemicals prices which are over 30% higher than in 2020. The additional costs to farmers and agribusiness are the higher fuel prices. The preliminary estimates from the Central Energy Fund suggest that petrol (95 ULP Inland) and diesel (0.05% Wholesale Inland) prices could decrease by 7 cents per litre (c/l) and 23 c/l, respectively, on 01 September 2021.2 This adjustment means the retail price of petrol could marginally fall to R18,23 per litre from the current level of R18,30. Simultaneously, the wholesale diesel price could decline to R15,41 per litre from R15,64 in September 2021. In the linked article, Wandile Sihlobo discusses the impact of the latest fuel prices.
Save the date: Agbiz Grain Symposium
There is little doubt that 2021 will be remembered as a watershed year for South Africa. Our economic recovery depends on the difference we make in the lives of others through our decision-making, the optimal management of socio-political challenges in the macro-environment, the curbing of unnecessary costs, by embracing new technological advancements and by gaining a clear understanding of the fundamental factors that will determine commodity prices in 2022. Leading our country and sector forward into a promising,
joyful future we need to make a difference in the lives of
others through our decision-making. Key speakers include Prof Johann Kirsten, Dr John Purchase, Prof. Ferdi Meyer, and Arlan Suderman. Join us from 20 - 23 September for our VIRTUAL Symposium. More information on the programme and to register to follow.
SA Reserve Bank governor explains monetary policy
Songezo Zibi, former editor of Business Day, spoke to the governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Lesetja Kganyago about the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank and various aspects of monetary policy. In recent years the bank has been the subject of public debate, much of it ill-informed as South Africa continues to grapple with socioeconomic hardship and various actors in society look for solutions that will make life better. Please click here to listen to the conversation.
Business Unity South Africa on the latest unemployment statics
The announcement by Statistics SA of the latest unemployment rate again emphasizes the severe crisis our country faces. BUSA has consistently indicated our country is in crisis and that we are at the precipice of a cliff. The latest unemployment data worryingly takes us on the verge of jumping off that cliff! The official jobless rate is 34.4%, but the extended rate, including those that have given up looking for jobs, is at a staggering 44.4%. This translates to 7 826 000 people wanting to work, but not able to find a job, and an additional 4 074 000 people that have given up looking for a job. The youth unemployment rate was recorded at 64.4% for ages 15-24 and 42.9% for ages 25-34. It is shocking that young people, at their most productive ages, are unable to find employment. The data further shows that the rate of unemployment amongst women is higher than men, which is also very concerning. Please click here to peruse.
BFAP's agricultural employment brief
According to Statistics South Africa’s (StatsSA) Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), released on the 24th of August 2021, weak labour demand has nudged the official narrow unemployment rate higher for Quarter 2, to reach 34.4%. Using the broad definition that incorporates individuals classified as discouraged workers that are able to work, but have stopped looking for jobs, this rate is now 42.7%. In a previous Employment Brief for Q1, BFAP cautioned readers on the interpretation of recent employment trends, especially in the agricultural sector. This was due to agriculture experiencing one of the best growth years in the recent past, but jobs in the sector seemed to decline significantly. Please click here to peruse.
South Africa’s master plan for cannabis: rules, regulations, and adding it to the school curriculum
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development estimates that the cannabis industry is worth an estimated R28 billion in South Africa, and could create anywhere between 10,000 – 25,000 jobs across the sector. The department was presented its ‘cannabis master plan’ to parliament this week, detailing how marijuana could be incorporated into South Africa’s business sector as part of the government’s ongoing drive towards legalisation and commercialisation. “Establishment of the cannabis industry will lead to diversification of the economy and thus increase economic growth, create jobs and for poverty alleviation,” it said. “The cannabis sector also has huge potential in terms of the development of SMMEs, attracting domestic and foreign investment and value additions in processing and manufacturing of various products for local and export markets.” Please click here to read the article, first published on Businesstech.
Lindiwe Zulu’s contrarian move could be a sign of new ANC factional fights to come
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s suggestion for a National Social Security Fund, made without the agreement of the rest of the Cabinet, while disregarding important stakeholders, could become a test of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ability to keep control over his Cabinet. Over the past week, more details have emerged about a Green Paper published by the Department of Social Development and about the context in which it was published. While it seems unlikely at this stage that its main elements will ever become government policy, the fact that it was made public in the first place and that it came during this time may be politically significant. This mini mess may be proof of just how much some ministers believe they are able to act without the backing of the rest of the government. This could turn out to be a test of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s mantle and his ability to keep control over his Cabinet. Read more in the linked article, first published in Daily Maverick.
The role of business in getting their staff and communities vaccinated
While South Africa now has the vaccine supply and capacity to vaccinate more than 300 000 people a day, we are now faced, in some areas, with a shortage of arms to jab. Opening up to the 18 – 35-year-old cohort will help create an immediate spike in demand. But this must not divert us from reaching the most vulnerable, and mobilising tens of millions of people to vaccinate. Two institutions – South Africa’s network of pharmacies and its doctors – will play perhaps the most critical role in creating access across the length and breadth of the country, and in giving people the information and reassurance they need that vaccines are safe and effective. Business for South Africa (B4SA) hosted a webinar on Friday, 20 August where they unpacked the role of pharmacies, discussed the science of vaccines with eminent doctors and looked at how businesses can help their staff and communities get vaccinated. Please click here to watch a recording of the webinar.
The “3 Rs” of promoting women’s engagement in food systems
A discussion on sustainable food systems would be incomplete without attention to women’s contributions; yet too often they are a mere afterthought for policymakers, private sector strategists and international development program designers. While they may not be recognized, female producers, entrepreneurs and consumers make important contributions within food supply chains, food environments and food consumption domains of the world’s local food systems. Promoting women’s equitable engagement across all domains of a food system leads to increased food security, business profitability and country business profitability and country gross domestic product (GDP). As development practitioners, we must be intentional about including women and promoting their empowerment within all domains of the food system. The “3 Rs” Framework provides a useful lens for women’s integration. Please click here to peruse.
BUSA cargo movement update
The BUSA Cargo Movement Update – the 52nd of its kind – contains a consolidated overview of the South African supply chain and the current state of international trade. Operationally, the constant drive to clear the backlog at the ports has continued. From the private sector's perspective, we believe that TPT is well on their way to recovery but appeal to our supply chain partners to support us in evacuating imports as quickly and efficiently as possible. As stack occupancy is reaching its limits, the fluidity of operations in and around the terminals is continually being hampered. The increase in volume handled through the commercial terminals was evident this week and will continue next week. Although the increased throughput figures are putting pressure on operations, the industry has welcomed the upsurge. Please click here to peruse.
Foot-and-mouth disease: Mtubatuba outbreak follow-up report and surveillance update
In May 2021, an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in cattle was confirmed in the Umkhanyakude District Municipality of the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Twenty-six locations in KwaZulu-Natal Province have been identified as FMD positive and reported to the OIE. Disease investigations to determine the extent of the spread of disease are nearing completion. Following the loss of the OIE recognised FMD free status in January 2019, agreements were negotiated with trade partners on the export of safe commodities, including heat treated meat and dairy products, deboned and matured beef, scoured wool, salted hides and skins and livestock embryos. Most trade partners have thus far still retained the negotiated agreements for these commodities, based on the guarantees provided for processing to ensure inactivation of the virus. South Africa is also confident to certify the safety of pigs, pig semen, raw pork and pork products from known FMD free pig compartments. Communication efforts are conducted to keep trade partners up to date with the disease situation in the country as well as the implementation of control measures to contain the disease. Please click here for the full report by the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development.
Invitation to India-Africa Agriculture and Food Processing Summit 
Agriculture in India and Africa share similarities like comparable agro-climatic and socio-economic conditions. Now, with improved productivity and better skilled people, India and Africa have emerged as key partners in contributing to global food security. However, Africa’s agricultural transformation needs more investment. There are challenges to enhance the output to higher levels, but with time, training and investment, it is achievable. While it is important to look into the seed quality, soil cultivation techniques, fertilizer and equipment the pre-growth building blocks also need to be parallelly cultivated along with it. This coupled with basic infrastructure development, access to markets and financing would be critical for improving Africa’s agricultural productivity.  
With this background the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with key stakeholders is organizing a Digital Exhibition and Conference on Agriculture & Food Processing Industry from 14-15 September 2021 on a virtual platform. 
This initiative aims to further deepen the existing relationship between India and Africa in the following areas : 
  • trade and investment in agriculture produce and commodities 
  • food processing and value addition
  • farm mechanization and irrigation technology for increasing productivity and achieving climate resilience
  • agricultural research & development to foster innovation,
  • capacity building & training 

Please click here for more information and the programme. To register, kindly contact Sudhir Mannie at commerce.pretoria@mea.gov.in.
Get the latest edition of Agrekon
Agrekon, the official publication of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), publishes research on agricultural science and agricultural, rural and food economics in southern Africa. Please click here to access the latest edition.
Citrus growers leading the way in the country’s vaccination drive
The Citrus Growers’ Association of South Africa (CGA) is proud to hear of a number of citrus growers who have organised mass Covid-19 vaccination drives for workers on their farms. This is particularly encouraging in light of the reported slowdown in recent weeks in the uptake of vaccines by over 35-year-olds. In order to protect the health of their workers, a number of citrus growers in Limpopo and Mpumalanga have partnered with the provincial health departments and NGOs to create vaccination sites on their farms in order to make it convenient for workers to get vaccinated. This was after many of these growers identified a number of factors that were hampering their workers from getting vaccinated, including lack of data and poor internet connection to register on the Covid-19 registration portal; vaccinations sites being situated far from farms and little knowledge of government’s vaccination programme. Please click here for the full CGA media statement.
South African top fruit industry offers vaccinations and job opportunities for its workers
Hortgro, South Africa’s deciduous fruit grower organisation, is keen to look after its workers in face of this year’s challenges. The fruit industry is advocating the Covid vaccine to all by partnering with the South African Department of Health and is also celebrating the end of a very successful jobs transformation programme in the apple and pear industry. South African pear and apple packers have collaborated with the public health and private sector to provide covid vaccination sites, with the aim to portray the willingness of the South African agricultural sector to assist in the prevention and containment of the spread of the virus. Read more in the linked article, first published on Fresh Plaza.
Invitation to attend AFMA's 74th AGM
AFMA will be hosting its 74th AGM on 3 September 2021. The speakers during the open session include Justice Malala, leading South African political analyst for a political overview, Wandile Sihlobo, Agibz chief economist for an economic overview and Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase who will discuss the Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan (AAMP) as part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). For more information and to register, please follow this link.
Get the latest news from FPEF
Keeping it Fresh, the newsletter of the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum (FPEF), 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.
Sustainability Summit 2021
21-23 September 2021 | Virtual

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

Intra-African Trade Fair 2021
15-21 November 2021 | Durban

Agbiz Congress 2022
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.