10 August 2018

As we contemplate the role of women in society during August, and particularly yesterday on Women's Day, we acknowledge that  women in agriculture not only play an important role in feeding the world, but they are affecting positive change in the agricultural space. Women fill many roles across the agricultural spectrum where they influence the agricultural agenda and decision-making. They are farmers and farmworkers, agricultural researchers, educators, journalists and agri-business people. Karen Grobler, Agbiz marketing and communications manager, provides more insight in the linked article .

The World Bank recently released an interesting book titled
Agriculture in Africa: Telling Myths from Facts. It covers a wide range of topics from smallholder land access, post-harvest losses, financing of agricultural inputs, agricultural labour productivity and women's work in agriculture amongst others.
Having recently written an article on women's contribution to the South African agricultural sector, I was quickly drawn in on the chapter that dealt with the subject. The book puts women's share of labour in crop production at an average 40 percent, with variations across countries. Worth noting, however, is that the data does not cover the entire continent, but selected countries, namely: Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. With that said, the countries cover a wide array of the continent's farming zones. Click here to read the full article by Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research.

Business People
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) released the July 2018 SACCI Business Confidence Index (BCI).
It concludes that although there are still major economic challenges ahead for South Africa, it appears that the downward trend in the business climate since February 2018 has lost momentum and could turn more positive. This mainly depends on the removal of economic policy uncertainties, which need to be countered, and global economic relations that must be nurtured to the benefit of South Africa and all its people. Apart from the economic challenges, it is important to have a stable socio-political environment that enhances economic performance and business confidence. Click here to peruse.

The title of this article may ruffle a few feathers, and perhaps it is a bit mischievous to do so, but it is exactly what is currently happening with statements related to amending the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.  The recent statement by President Ramaphosa after the ANC Lekgotla caused quite a reaction from commentators as well as from markets. However, if you dissect exactly what was said it becomes clear that the statement was carefully crafted so that is could mean multiple things to multiple people. To say everything and nothing at the same time is far from an insult, quite the contrary. Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence, elaborates on this statement in the linked article .
The South African tractor sales continued to rise in July, albeit at a slower pace than the previous month, up by 5% y/y with 525 units sold (see Figure 1). While lower than our expectations of 578 units, this is the highest tractor sales figure for the corresponding month since 2015. In the same period, the harvester sales decline by 8% y/y, with 12 units sold. This data is unsurprising as this is a relatively quiet period in the agricultural sector as the summer crop harvest process approaches completion, while the new season planting process will only commence in two months' time. Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research Wandile Sihlobo provides more insight.

The Climate Prediction Center and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society released an El Niño Watch Synopsis on 9 August 2018: There is ~60% chance of El Niño in the Southern Hemisphere in the spring of 2018 (September-November), increasing to ~70% during summer of 2018/19. ENSO-neutral continued during July, as indicated by near-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific at the end of the month. Positive subsurface temperature anomalies (averaged across 180°-100°W) continued over the past month, and the volume of anomalous warmth extended to the surface in the eastern part of the basin. Convection remained suppressed near the Date Line and over western Indonesia. Low-level winds were near average across most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, while upper-level wind anomalies were westerly over the eastern Pacific and near the International Date Line. Overall, the oceanic and atmospheric conditions reflected ENSO-neutral. Please click here to peruse the full press statement. It must be emphasised that while there is a positive correlation between El  Niño incidences and droughts in the southern Africa interior, there are exceptions to the rule as other factors also play a role in determining seasonal rainfall.

Mariana Purnell, general manager of Agbiz Grain, talked to Lise Roberts of RSG Landbou about the fifth Agbiz Grain Symposium, which takes place on 21 August at the CSIR. Click to listen to this conversation.

 Despite being one of the most radical fields of human inquiry into the unknown, our current understanding of biotechnology has failed to keep up with the discipline's tremendous potential. It's understandable; the field and its overwhelming pace seemed to arrive out of nowhere. A scant 15 years ago the Human Genome Project was still decoding our 46 chromosomes; now, a subculture of "citizen biohackers" are editing their own genes. Lab Management & Science has put together a primer on the past, present and future of this pioneering field. Please click to peruse.

Aerobotics, a South African agtech company with a smart scouting platform to identify pests and diseases in tree crops, has closed a $2 million Series A.  The round was led by Nedbank CIB Venture Capital, the VC arm of one of South Africa's largest banks, with participation from AgFunder, AngelList, 4Di Capital, Savannah Fund, Lee Edwards, former CTO of TeeSpring, and Justin Spratt, head of business for Sub-Saharan Africa at Uber. Please click to read more.

About 2 500 learners will experience farm life in October thanks to a dynamic agricultural education program at Agri-Expo Livestock, a world-class exhibition of the livestock and dairy industries, from Thursday 11 to Saturday 13 October 2018 at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch.  Press release

Click here for Free State Agriculture's (FSA) Newsletter for July 2018.  It includes information on the land issue, FSA's annual congress, what to do with land occupations, information on firearms and tips to prevent fires.

The fifth Agbiz Grain Symposium will take place on Tuesday, 21 August at the CSIR in Pretoria. This year's theme is "Value chain impacts".

All the relevant role players in the grain industry, those involved in storage and handling of grain, as well as others involved in the grain value chain, will be attending. About 120 delegates are expected at the symposium.

The symposium will be an all-day event. The programme will be interactive to provide a platform for exchange of information, to engage in discussions, to share opinions and to ask open questions. Confirmed speakers who will present at the symposium are from Department of Transport, the University of Pretoria and the CSIR, plus a few surprises.

In line with the theme "Value chain impacts", sessions are dedicated to "On the move"; "On the farm"; "On the net"; "In the science"; and "In the future". The topics will comprise several issues affecting the entire grain value chain. The first session will cover road and rail transport in the grain industry. The second session is devoted to matters pertaining to the accessibility of information on the internet for the primary agricultural sector as well as the vitally important aspect of on-line security for a business and its employees. One session will be dedicated to scientific matters such as essential information regarding mycotoxins and endocrine disrupters which can affect the grain industry negatively. The symposium will close with presentations about the future of agriculture, focusing on visionary, but useful technologies.

We will end the day with time to network and exchange information with the exhibitors.  Click for more information.
PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa
Conference and Trade show
15-16 August, 2018 |  CSIR | Pretoria
Registration now open
Enquiries: Petrie Vogel, petrie@abevents.co.za

PMA Women's Fresh Perspectives:
Register now for the Women's Fresh Perspectives event which includes a luncheon with keynote 
speaker  Adv. Thuli Madonsela   @ThuliMadonsela3
This is a limited seating event! 

AFASA 2018 Agribusiness Transformation Conference 
19-21 August 2018 | Destiny Hotel and Convention Centre | Kempton Park
More information

Agbiz Grain Symposium
21 August 2018 | Pretoria
Enquiries: Mariana Purnell, mariana.purnell@agbizgrain.co.za

FERTASA Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition Symposium
21 August 2018 | CSIR | Pretoria
Enquiries:  candice@fertasa.co.za

BIO Africa Convention 2018
27-29 August 2018  | International Convention Centre | Durban

Ripe for the picking? Exploiting South Africa's potential in fruit to grow employment and increase participation 
29 August 2018 | CCRED Seminar Room | Rosebank
RSVP infoccred@uj.ac.za

AGRI 5 Commodities Workshop and Expo
20-21 September 2018  East London Show Grounds
Contact info: 011 056 6856

Africa Fertilizer Agribusiness Conference
24-26 September  | Cape Town
More information

56th Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA)
25-27 September 2018 | Lord Charles Hotel | Somerset West
Media release

Urban Agri Africa 2018 Summit
25-26 September 2018 | Sunnyside Park Hotel | Parktown
More information

Second African Congress on Conservation Agriculture
9-12 October 2018 | Johannesburg

Science Forum 2018
Theme: Win more, lose less: Capturing synergies between SDGs through agricultural research
10-12 October 2018 | Stellenbosch

Second International Conference for Food Safety and Security
St George's Hotel, Pretoria
15-17 October 2018 | St George Hotel | Pretoria

First Bi-annual International Soy for Human Health Conference 2019
11-13 March 2019 | St George Hotel | Pretoria
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