15 August 2020
TIPS Tracker: the economy and the pandemic
One of the key findings in TIPS Tracker for the period 27 July to 9 August, is that South Africa appears to have succeeded in cutting the transmission of Covid-19 sharply over the past month, although reported new cases per 100 000 are still far higher than in early June. Known active cases declined 45% from their peak in mid-July through 9 August.The TIPS Tracker on the economy and the pandemic highlights important trends in the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, and how they affect the economy. It analyses publicly available data, research and media reports to identify current developments, and reflect on the prognosis for the contagion, the economy, and policy responses. Please click here for the latest report.
Minister Didiza further extends the validity period of Covid-19 disaster support fund vouchers
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development  (DALRRD) Thoko Didiza is further extending the validity period of the Covid-19 disaster agricultural support fund voucher to 30 September 2020. Initially the vouchers had a validity period of 30 June and the minister extended it to 31 July 2020. These extensions emanate from supply chain disruptions on the availability of production inputs caused by Covid-19, which negatively affected farmers' ability to redeem their vouchers, delays in the printing of vouchers and non-availability of some production inputs in the market. Please click here for the DALRRD media statement.
Feedback from the NMWC
The National Minimum Wage Commission (NMWC) is currently dealing with a number of issues that will impact businesses directly. The first of these has specific relevance for agriculture, in that the NMWC is awaiting a final report on the effects of the national minimum wage on employment for 2019, from the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) at the University of Cape Town. That report is due this month (August). In the linked article, Jahni de Villiers, a labour relations specialist with 15 years of experience, provides feedback from the latest NMWC meetings.
SA agriculture machinery sales on a firm footing

South Africa's tractor and combine harvester sales were up by 21% y/y and 38% y/y in July 2020, respectively, with 444 units and 11 units sold. An important driver of sales in July and the preceding two months has primarily been farmers' decision to buy the existing stock at relatively affordable prices, ahead of the inevitable price increases which will prevail as a result of the weaker rand. Also, the large summer grains harvest in 2019/20 production season and relatively favourable prices have somewhat improved the farmers' financial position to acquire additional machinery. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest machinery sales data in the linked article.
Some good news about global grains for the 2020/2021 season

Tempus fugit (time flies) is an apt phrase to describe developments in the global agricultural market. It feels like just the other day when I wrote an update note on global grain conditions following the release of the monthly world agricultural supply and demand estimates report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). On August 12, the department released its update for August, which made minor, yet mixed adjustments, from the previous month's estimates. Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Agbiz Grains bids farewell to Mariana Purnell

At the Agbiz Grain Steering Committee meeting held on 12 August 2020, Agibz Grain officially bid farewell to Mariana Purnell, who retired at the end of June. Mariana has held the position of general manager at Agbiz Grain from August 2013 to June 2020. Agbiz Grain Steering Committee chairperson Jerry Maritz and Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase paid tribute to Mariana for her dedicated service to the grain industry. Jerry Maritz thanked her for the huge contribution she has made to organised agriculture, specifically in the grain industry with the handling and storage of grain. "Agbiz Grain would like to commend her for her positive image, exceptional representation, leadership, insight, wisdom and zeal with which she performed her task in the grain industry." 
Measures to improve operations of deeds offices
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development  (DALRRD) Thoko Didiza has met with the chief registrar of deeds and all provincial registrars to put a concrete plan to address challenges of backlog in all deeds offices. The minister's meeting follows numerous complaints from various stakeholders regarding backlogs and constant closure of deeds offices. Measures will be put in place as matter of urgency to ensure that deeds offices address the entire backlog while continuing to attend to new lodgements. Please click on the linked DALRRD media statement for more information. 
Ghana expects 5.8% increase in cocoa output in 2020/2021

Ghana expects cocoa output of around 900 000 tonnes in the 2020/2021 season, up 5.8% from the forecast for 2019/2020, the country's Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) said, according to a parliamentary report published on Wednesday. Ghana is the world's second-biggest cocoa producer. Its growing season runs from October to September.The report also said the COCOBOD planned to raise $1.3 billion in syndicated loans to fund cocoa purchases during 2020/21 from a consortium of banks and financial institutions, with the government as guarantor. Read more in the linked Reuters article.
Cheese could drive a wedge between the UK and Japan in trade talks
Cheese exports worth less than $150,000 could be holding up a trade deal between Britain and Japan. Since Brexit, the UK government has struggled to replicate the trade agreements it once enjoyed with dozens of countries around the world as an EU member. Now talks with Japan, Britain's fourth biggest trading partner outside the EU, appear to be running into trouble as the UK government tries to secure better terms than Tokyo agreed with the EU just two years ago. UK trade secretary Liz Truss is racing to do a deal before the UK loses access to the Japan agreement previously negotiated by Brussels when the post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of this year. Read more in the linked CNN article.
The unravelling of America
Never in our lives have we experienced such a global phenomenon. For the first time in the history of the world, all of humanity, informed by the unprecedented reach of digital technology, has come together, focused on the same existential threat, consumed by the same fears and uncertainties, eagerly anticipating the same, as yet unrealized, promises of medical science. In a single season, civilization has been brought low by a microscopic parasite 10 000 times smaller than a grain of salt. Covid-19 attacks our physical bodies, but also the cultural foundations of our lives, the toolbox of community and connectivity that is for the human what claws and teeth represent to the tiger.  Anthropologist Wade Davis discusses in the linked article, written for the Rolling Stone magazine, how Covid-19 signals the end of the American era.
 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.

Agbiz Congress 2021

We are currently finding ourselves in challenging and unprecedented times, and the uncertainty around what the future holds makes it very difficult for any of us to plan ahead. This also applies to the arrangements for the Agbiz Congress, which was scheduled for July this year, but had to be postponed to April 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are soliciting advice from professional event organisers to assist us in finding the most suitable solution to host the congress next year, despite the uncertain times we find ourselves in. We will present the various options at the Council meeting on 28 August 2020 for input and recommendations from Council members. For more information, please visit the congress web page. 
PMA Fresh Connections: Southern Africa Conference
18-20 August 2020 | Virtual event
More information

2020 AgriAllAfrica Agribusiness Conference
Theme: "Imagined responses to Covid-19: Progress with the development of solutions"
29 October 2020 | CSIR | Pretoria (live event tbc)
Enquiries: Marianna.duplessis@gmail.com | +27 063 076 9135

MPO Annual National Congress, cheese-making course and AGMs
4 November  2020 | Lythwood Lodge | Lidgetton | KZN Midlands
Contact Julie McLachlan: julie@mpo.co.za or 083 740 2720

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

Agbiz Congress 2021
Theme: "Building resilient and sustainable agri-food ecosystems".
7-9 April 2021 | Sun City Convention Centre | South Africa

Second International Congress of Biological Control (ICBC2) 
26-30 April 2021 | Davos, Switzerland
Why join Agbiz?
  • Agbiz is the only organisation that serves the broader and common over-arching business interests of agribusinesses in South Africa.
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  • 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.
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