As we approach Christmas and look forward to welcoming 2020, it is also a time to reflect on 2019. It has not been an easy year for the broader agriculture and agribusiness sector with many headwinds in the form of droughts and other severe weather phenomena, policy uncertainty around property rights especially, poor service delivery from government (Eskom the prime example), pest and disease outbreaks, and deteriorating and poor economic growth, amongst others. Despite these challenges the broader industry remains remarkably robust and resilient, but we also clearly need to put in place a new set of building blocks, in partnership with government and labour, to take our industry and country forward. This initiative has been kick-started through the Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) and the Masterplan Initiative announced by President Ramaphosa, and will gather momentum early in 2020.

I want to wish you a blessed Christmas and a prosperous 2020, and trust that your break over the festive season with your loved ones will be special and rejuvenating. No doubt 2020 will be challenging, but we are resourceful and we can work together to create a better South Africa for all. Winning the Rugby World Cup this year proved that!

Best wishes

CEO: Agbiz

13 December 2019
IFC launches report on water efficiency project in the agriculture sector

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched a report on water effiency in the agri-processing sector at the Agbiz Media Day in Pretoria last week. The report was produced as part of a broader agri-processing resource efficiency project in South Africa (APRE), aimed to help transition to better water and resource efficiency practices for companies engaged in agricultural processing. The project is expected to help mitigate water supply risks in the sector, resulting from the water scarcity challenge in South Africa and throughout the region. The project is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO). The IFC,  with support from GreenCape and with inputs from the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), has conducted a study of opportunities for reduction of water use in agri-processing, analyzed persisting barriers for better efficiency and highlighted possible areas for improvement at the level of the firms, within the sector as a whole as well as in the policy and regulatory framework. To perform the assessment, the team has conducted an extensive review of available research on the topic and interviewed more than 50 private firms, government agencies and sector associations. Please click here to peruse.
Contextualising the 2019 African swine fever outbreak in South Africa

South Africa's agriculture industry currently faces many headwinds, with threats to our biosecurity, and plant and animal health, amongst the most severe. While the respective industries have a  huge and necessary responsibility in this regard, government also has a huge regulatory, enforcement and R&D role to play in partnership with industry. Clearly we are currently not at the standard to ensure sustainable and globally competitive value chains, which should be our ambition.  A step in the right direction is analysing outbreaks of disease in detail, and then recommending and introducing the necessary interventions to take our industries to a much higher level of disease and pest management. The pork industry needs to be lauded in this regard with the release of Contextualising the 2019 African swine fever outbreak in South Africa. Please click 2019 ASF Context to peruse a most informative presentation.
Series on agribusiness in Africa: Ethiopia impression

African countries outside of South Africa remain potential agriculture and agribusiness investment destinations, but doing business in Africa holds many and varied risks and challenges. While there are challenges that are common to all countries, such as infrastructure limitations, each country must be viewed and considered separately due to many challenges and risks, but also opportunities and strengths, being characteristic to a particular country. Agbiz member Valuechainsolutions, operates in many of these countries and has offered to provide readers of the Agbiz newsletter with their impressions of developments and doing business in certain countries. The third country considered in this series is Ethiopia. Please click on Impressions of a country: Ethiopia to peruse. The views are those of the authors, and not necessarily of Agbiz.
Another grim year ahead for despondent SA agricultural sector
In years to come when we read the agricultural economic history of South Africa, 2019 will be one of the toughest the sector has experienced in the past decade. On a macro level we've witnessed sustained despondency among farming businesses for some time. The Agbiz/IDC agribusiness confidence index has remained below the neutral 50-point mark for six consecutive quarters, which implies that agribusinesses are downbeat about business conditions in South Africa. This has been the longest period of despondency in the farming sector since the financial crisis. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo shares his insights in the linked article.
Drought and foot-and-mouth disease weigh on SA agriculture exports
The week got off to a fairly slow start with no key data releases in the domestic agricultural calendar. This offered us an opportunity to briefly look back at key developments this year. If there is anything that has shaped agricultural permeance it is the drought in the 2018/19 production season and also the biosecurity matters. Wandile Sihlobo referred to the impact of these on agricultural economic performance in the third quarter of 2019. But it is important that we also zoom into the recent trade figures, which show that South Africa's agricultural trade surplus narrowed by 9% in the third quarter of this year compared to the corresponding period in 2018, recorded at US$1.2 billion. Please click here to read Wandile Sihlobo's article.
Russia-Africa summit brought positive news for South Africa's agriculture

The first Russia-Africa summit that was held in October 2019 concluded with an announcement that urged all participants to increase cooperation in security, science, environmental protection, trade and economic matters.
On this last point - trade and economic matters - the declaration highlights that participants should "make efforts to substantially expand the trade between the Russian Federation and the African States and diversify it, including by increasing the share of agricultural products in import and export operations." Wandile Sihlobo explores this topic in the linked article.
UK retailers welcome early Hex River grape harvest

For the first time ever, grapes are picked on 11 December in the Hex River Valley," says Jacques Beukes of Modderdrift Boerdery, a table grape grower-exporter outside De Doorns in the Western Cape. "We started yesterday picking Starlight Seedless and we're the first ones to harvest in the Hex. I expect other producers will start getting their harvests underway from next week onwards. The previous record starting date was 16 December, around four years ago. The season in the Hex River seems to be nine days earlier than usual." Read more in the linked article, first published on Fresh Plaza.
SA wine grape crop estimated below average

The early estimate for the 2020 wine grape crop currently shows a crop of between 1 244 985 and 1 330 050 million tons. These volumes are similar to the 2019 harvest, but if everything goes well during the remainder of the season, an improvement of up to 6.8% can be realised. Although an improvement on 2019 harvest is a possibility, the estimate still indicates a volume of 2.3% lower than the average wine grape crop yield over the past five years. Limits for the possible wine grape crop volumes are indicated, as it is very early in the season and many factors can take effect to bring about significant changes in the realised tonnes. Vinpro statement
Trump can't force China to yield on trade like Mexico

China is not Mexico. It's impossible that the US can strike a trade deal with China by forcing Beijing to make big compromises, as the US did to Mexico when it came to the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  US President Donald Trump on Tuesday retweeted a post from US Representative Mike Kelly, who claimed that the USMCA is "a big win." The Financial Times said Trump's "disruptive approach to trade" is delivering results at a time of heightened commercial tensions with China and the EU. Some have linked the USMCA to the ongoing trade row with China, and they hope the new North American deal can be used as a model to pressure Beijing to accept US trade policy. Read more in the linked article, first published on Global Times.
Who keeps Europe's farm billions flowing? Often, those who benefit

The European Union's farm programme is one of the largest subsidy schemes in the world. It represents 40% of the European budget - money that is meant to support farmers and sustain rural communities. Yet it is opaque in key areas, with gaping shortcomings in accountability. In November, a New York Times investigation revealed that the subsidies underwrite oligarchs, mobsters and far-right populists. The Times also showed that some national leaders use the money to enrich friends, political allies and family members. Read more in the linked article, first published in The New York Times.
Global meat-eating is on the rise, bringing surprising benefits: 

In rich countries people go vegan and pour oat milk over their breakfast cereal. In the world as a whole, the trend is the other way. In the decade to 2017 global meat consumption rose by an average of 1.9% a year and fresh dairy consumption by 2.1% - both about twice as fast as population growth. Almost four-fifths of all agricultural land is dedicated to feeding livestock, if you count not just pasture but also cropland used to grow animal feed. Humans have bred so many animals for food that the earth's mammalian biomass is thought to have quadrupled since the Stone Age. Please click here to read the full article, first published in The Economist.
Inaugural forum on China-Africa cooperation in agriculture

Earlier this week, Minister Thoko Didiza attended the 1st Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture (FOCACA). The meeting was held in Sanya, China under the theme "Join hands for sustainable development and a closer new-type China-Africa partnership in agriculture". FOCACA trails the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) chaired by President Ramaphosa and President Xi Jinping in September 2018 which resolved in its action plan to promote steady development of the China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation. The 1st FOCACA focused on deepening of China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture and the establishment of a closer new-type China-Africa partnership in agriculture, in support of Africa realising general food security by 2030. Media release
Get the latest news from SAPPO

For the latest news from the South African Pork Producers' Organisation, please click SAPPO Weekly Update to peruse.
The latest news from SATI

Please click here for the latest trade newsletter from the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI).
The latest news from the potato industry

Please click here for the latest newsletter of Potatoes SA.
Register and book your accommodation to avoid disappointment

It is our pleasure to inform you that the Agbiz Congress 2020 will be held at Sun City in North West from 15 to 17 July 2020.  Held every second year, the Agbiz Congress 2020 is one of the major events on the food, feed, fibre and wine sectors' agenda in South Africa. We anticipate attracting more than 400 delegates to the 2020 congress, which will feature presentations and discussion panels from local and international speakers, as well as a student case competition and various networking opportunities.

Themed "Building resilient and sustainable agri-food ecosystems", the congress will provide the key forum for identifying the critical developments needed over the coming decades to ensure agri-food value chains are managed sustainably for the benefit of current and future generations. New practices, methods and technologies are required to build robust and inclusive value chains, and thus sustainable agri-food networks and food security.

Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity to engage in these critical discussions, and showcase and promote your business on the agribusiness stage. We are looking forward to seeing you at the Agbiz Congress 2020 from 15 to 17 July 2020 at Sun City!

Please click here for more information and to register.
Nedbank Vinpro Information Day
Theme: "Touch and change"
23 January 2020 | CICS | Cape Town

Africa Agri Tech South Africa
18-20 February 2020  | Time Square | Menlyn Maine | Pretoria
More information

AFMA Forum 2020
Theme: "Explore today for a better tomorrow"
3-5 March 2020 | Sun City | South Africa

Skills Development Summit & Achiever Awards 
4-5 March 2020 | CSIR Convention Centre | Pretoria
Contact  Gordon Campbell:

Agritech Africa
17-19  June 2020 | Cape Town International Convention Centre  | Cape Town

Agbiz Congress 2020
Theme: "Building resilient and sustainable agri-food ecosystems".
15 - 17 July 2020 | Sun City Convention Centre | South Africa

Soya Bean for Human Consumption Symposium
17 September 2020  | Pretoria
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.

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