13 March 2020
Land restitution: falling back on old elites and entrenching corruption

The grindingly slow pace of land reform is feeding one of the fires gathering intensity in our social fabric. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni acknowledged the lag in his 2020 budget speech, promising an additional R500 million to settle outstanding claims, writes  Aninka  Claassens, chief researcher and Nokwanda Sihlali, research officer at the Land and Accountability Research Centre based at the University of Cape Town, in an article written for and first published on Daily Maverick. 
Proposals on EWC ignore importance of property rights
"Land reform is necessary in South Africa, but that is about the only issue regarding land reform on which there is consensus. What is clear, though, is that the more recent proposals on expropriation without compensation
are a red herring, largely because they ignore the importance of property rights and their contribution to a stable financial and economic system." This is an extract from the introduction in the publication A compendium of essays on Land Reform in South Africa. This monograph contains a collection of essays that Prof Johann Kirsten and Wandile Sihlobo have published in Business Day during the course of 2018, with the intention of shedding some light on contested land reform issues in South Africa. 

Clem Sunter sketches coronavirus scenarios

In a book published in 2015 entitled Flagwatching, Clem Sunter wrote about how important it was to identify the flags changing the world as we know it. One of the flags was the increasing likelihood of a global pandemic due to higher rates of international travel and the growing concentration of people in megacities. Likewise, the transmission of viruses across different species was a major concern as was the appearance of multi-drug resistant varieties of bacteria. He ended up by quoting Louis Pasteur, the 19th century French microbiologist, who in a moment of pessimism said: "It is the microbes that will have the last word." Sunter states that the coronavirus is now spreading so quickly around the world that, despite the containment measures taken by China where the virus originated, it now exists on every continent other than Antarctica. He says how significant a threat it poses to humankind in general has to be explored in scenarios. Read more in the linked article published by the South African Pork Producers' Organisation.
Flattening the coronavirus curve

Mitigation efforts like social distancing help reduce the disease caseload on any given date, and can keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. One chart explains why slowing the spread of the infection is nearly as important as stopping it. Read more in the  linked article,   written for and first published in the  New York Times.
COVID-19: Getting your workplace ready

On 11 March 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. South Africa recently joined over 100 countries in reporting cases of COVID-19. There is now consensus that the world will probably not be able to contain the virus, but that we should strive to slow the spread of the virus in order for health systems to cope with the number of patients.  The WHO has made recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace and advises that e mployers should start doing these things now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where you operate. Employers can already reduce working days lost due to illness and stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 if it arrives at one of your workplaces. Please click here to peruse.
Limiting the economic fallout of the coronavirus with large targeted policies

This health crisis will have a significant economic fallout, reflecting shocks to supply and demand different from past crises. Substantial targeted policies are needed to support the economy through the epidemic, keeping intact the web of economic and financial relationships between workers and businesses, lenders and borrowers, and suppliers and end-users for activity to recover once the outbreak fades. The goal is to prevent a temporary crisis from permanently harming people and firms through job losses and bankruptcies. Gita Gopinath, economic counsellor and director of the research department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), discusses this subject in the linked IMF blogpost, which is part of a special series on the IMF's response to the coronavirus.
Services trade growth weakens as COVID-19 crisis hits global economy

World services trade growth continued to weaken toward the end of 2019 and into the first quarter of 2020 according to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Services Trade Barometer. The latest reading of 96.8 is a further decline from 98.4 recorded last September and below the baseline value of 100, suggesting that a recovery is not yet in sight. The indicator does not yet fully reflect the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus and may decline further in the coming months. Please click WTO's Service Trade Barometer to peruse.
Coronavirus is set to change consumer behaviour

Only a week after the first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was confirmed in South Africa, the fear of a spread of the virus appears to be changing consumer behaviour and demand patterns.  Anecdotally, over the weekend we noticed a surging demand for sanitisers to the extent that several retailers ran out of supplies in Pretoria. In other countries such as the US, consumers are in "panic-buying" mode, clearing shelves of everything from cleaning wipes and hand sanitiser to pasta, rice and bottled water. The UK is experiencing similar behaviour with retailers reporting a spike in demand for essential products and foods.  Will South Africa experience similar behaviour? Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo explores this topic in the linked article, written for and first published on Daily Maverick.
More maize
Amid the news flow of the coronavirus, there have been some positive developments on South Africa's maize production front. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised its estimate for South Africa's 2019/20 maize production up by 10% from last month's estimate to 16.0 million tonnes. This is up by 35% from the previous season.  One thing we should remember, however, is that the USDA data includes both commercial and non-commercial production, and therefore not directly comparable to South Africa's Crop Estimates Committee's number of 14.6 million tonnes released last month, which accounts for only commercial production. Nonetheless, this doesn't change the view we expressed last month, which is; this could be the second-largest maize harvest on record after the 2016/17 season (which was 16.8 million tonnes for total maize). Wandile Sihlobo elaborates in the linked blogpost.
SA tractor sales remained subdued in February 2020
After falling to the lowest monthly level in six years in January 2020, South Africa's tractor sales recovered by 46% m/m in February 2020 to 485 units. While encouraging, this is still 8% lower than the corresponding period in 2019. As it was the case in January 2020, the subdued tractor sales data was unsurprising as it is a continuation of the 2019 trend. That year, farmers' incomes were constrained because of poor harvests on the back of drought and biosecurity issues, amongst other aspects. With that said, the drought which led to lower agricultural output in 2019 is not the full story. It's worth remembering that in 2018 South Africa's agricultural machinery sales were relatively robust, which implies that the rate of replacement in 2019 was going to be low. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo.
SA commercial pig herd now among 'healthiest in the world'

With approximately 65% of South Africa's commercial pig herd now officially registered with the South African Pork Producers' Organisation's (SAPPO) compartmentalisation system, the local commercial herd is now one of the healthiest in the world.
This was according to Johann Kotze, CEO of SAPPO, who explained that compartmentalised piggery operations had essentially "placed themselves under quarantine". "In our compartmentalised piggeries, it's not a case that they have a notifiable disease and have quarantined themselves to prevent the disease's spread. It's actually for these piggeries to protect themselves from the impact of any notifiable or other diseases that may break out elsewhere in South Africa." Read more in the linked Farmers' Weekly article.
Perspective on agriculture's performance in Quarter 4 of 2019

StatsSA reports that South Africa's GDP declined by 1.4% in the fourth
quarter of 2019 bringing the total GDP growth for 2019 to only 0.2%. The
agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector contributed -0.2% to the national number, owing to a contraction of 7.6% since the third quarter of 2019. StatsSA evaluates all sectors, focusing on a seasonally adjusted, annualised movement from Quarter 3 to Quarter 4. This is comparable to the rest of the economy, but the applicability to agriculture is complicated given timing of delivery by various subsectors. Relative comparison of Quarter 4 2019 numbers to Quarter 4 2018 performance removes the need for seasonal adjustments and provides a simpler picture of agricultural performance in the past quarter. By this metric, agricultural GDP increased by 2.1% in Q4 2019. Read more in the linked BFAP report.
Corteva's Kulani Machaba elected vice president of AFSTA

At the recent African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) General Assembly in Livingstone, Zambia, Kulani Machaba, Corteva's regulatory leader: AME, was selected to be AFSTA's vice president. Kulani was nominated to serve on the AFTSA board by Sansor. AFSTA's board of directors has 12 voting members who represent different Africa national seed associations, and three associate members representing GNIS, ISF and ASTA.  AFSTA represents African national seed associations and seed business stakeholders in Africa. AFSTA was created in 2000, and currently has more than 110 members composed of seed companies, national seed trade associations and associate members that include the French interprofessional organisation for seeds and plants (GNIS) , Euroseeds, the International Seed Federation (ISF) and the American Seeds Trade Association (ASTA).  AFSTA's main objective is to create a conducive environment for seed companies to be able to trade in Africa. The organisation is involved in advocacy work jointly with various national associations in phytosanitary matters, regional harmonization of seed laws, plant variety protection, gene editing policies, among other matters.
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.
News from the citrus industry

Read the latest news from the citrus industry, in the weekly newsletter of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa. Please click here to peruse.
Women in Tech Africa 2020 Conference 
18-19 March 2020 | Century City Conference Centre  | Cape Town

GOSA Symposium 2020
19-20 March 2020 | Diaz Hotel & Resort | Mossel Bay
Theme: "2020 and beyond"

NSTF Plant Health discussion forum - IYPH 2020
6-7 May 2020 | Future Africa  | University of Pretoria | South St  | Koedoespoort

Transport Forum
Theme: "Answering the climate action challenge at scale"
2 April 2020  | 23 Melle Street (corner De Korte Street) Braamfontein  OR
WWF | 1st floor Bridge House | Boundary Terraces Mariendahl Lane (corner Campground Rd) Newlands
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

PMA Fresh Connections: Southern Africa Conference and Trade Show
19-20 August 2020  Sun Arena, Time Square, Menlyn Maine, Pretoria

3rd African Symposium on Mycotoxicology joint MYTOXSOUTH conference 
6-9 September 2020 | Stellenbosch

Soya Bean for Human Consumption Symposium
17 September 2020  | Pretoria

Second International Congress of Biological Control (ICBC2) 
26-30 April 2021 |  Davos, Switzerland
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