17 MARCH 2017
On Sunday, 12 March 2017, the African National Congress (ANC) released a series of discussion documents in preparation for their 5th National Policy Conference due to take place midway through this year. Role-players in the agro-food value chain will be relieved to note that expropriation without compensation does not appear in the initial content of the policy document on economic transformation. Instead, it places a welcome emphasises on a stable policy environment to foster inclusive growth.  Theo Boshoff, Agbiz Manager: Legal Intelligence explains more in the  linked article»

The needs of the land and the needs of the people can't be separated

"The national conversation about land, always simmering in South Africa, has come to  the boil again . What's often missing is a voice for the unrepresented party - the land. I'd like to be that voice," writes Robert Scholes, Distinguished Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand - Read article»
This article was published on The Conversation
This week NEDLAC Trade and Industry Chamber (TIC) received a presentation from the International Trade and Administration Commission (ITAC), following recent challenges in the steel and poultry industries. The presentation was most enlightening, especially in terms of the processes followed. The discussion focused primarily on a speeded-up process as the target period of 6 months leaves too much room for serious industry injury and job losses in the case of sudden large scale dumping. A further issue raised was unacceptable delays between a recommendation made by the Minister of Trade and Industry to the Minister of Finance, and the  final published notice in the Government Gazette. "It is the contention of Agbiz that the current delay with the gazetting of the new wheat tariff dispensation, which is causing liquidity problems in the wheat market, can be ascribed to such a delay and reconsideration of the recommendation by the Minister of Trade and Industry. Apparently new legislation will specifically streamline this process," says Dr John Purchase, Agbiz CEO. Please click on ITAC presentation to peruse.

"Informed debate and decision making is required to address the issue of land reform and protection of property, since the land issue could have serious implications, not just on the agriculture sector but on our entire socio-economic spectrum," writes Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist, in his Business Day column.  One critical sector would be the financial industry, which over the years has consistently shown growing confidence in the agricultural sector. In 2015 the total South African farm debt was at R142 billion in real terms, which is a record level in a database starting from 1980. Given that 2016 was characterised by the drought, the figure is expected to have increased further. Therefore, the land issue needs to be managed responsibly as it could pose a serious risk to the financial sector - Read more»

"Many see the agricultural sector as the epicentre of growth and development across the African continent, and therefore it has to attract young talent in order to maximise its potential. However, some agricultural leaders and policy makers have placed the onus on young people, arguing that they show little interest in the sector - preferring office jobs that are perceived as sophisticated," writes Wandile Sihlobo - Read more»
* The linked article first appeared in the Farmers Weekly magazine, 10 March 2017 issue
SA's logistics amongst the best in the world

South Africa's logistics are comparatively more efficient than most industrialising countries. This is according to the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index which ranked South Africa at number 20 out of 160 countries surveyed, with Germany leading the world. With growing expectations that South Africa could potentially have large agricultural surpluses for export markets, particularly in maize, the logistics services will play a critical role in ensuring the success of the activity.  Wandile Sihlobo explains more in the linked document»
Daily view on commodity markets

Daily commentaries on agricultural commodity markets and macro-economic trends are available on the Agbiz website  www.agbiz.co.za
ENSO conditions currently neutral, but El Niño looming in 2017 Spring

ENSO-neutral conditions continued during February, with near-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the central equatorial Pacific and above-average SSTs in the eastern Pacific. The latest weekly Niño index values were near zero in the Niño-4 and Niño-3.4 regions, and +0.4 and +2.2°C farther east in the Niño-3 and Niño-1+2 regions, respectively. The upper-ocean heat content anomaly increased during February and was slightly positive when averaged across the central and eastern Pacific, a reflection of generally above-average temperatures at depth. Overall, the ocean and atmosphere system is consistent with ENSO-neutral conditions. In summary, ENSO-neutral conditions are favo u red to continue through at least the Northern Hemisphere spring 2017, with increasing chances for El Niño development into the fall . Please click on Enso Advisory to peruse full El Nino/ENSO statement by the Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.
High court rules private citizens can fix roads

A recent High Court decision has likely set a new precedent that could allow for private citizens and bodies to perform basic service delivery functions with taxpayers' money.  In the  judgement , the Eastern Cape High Court ordered the provincial Roads Department to reimburse farmers who carry out maintenance themselves, subject to strict conditions including giving the department 30 days notice of the repairs and obtaining at least two independent quotes - Read more»
Trans boundary crop and livestock pests and diseases

On 14 - 16 February 2017, FAO, in collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) held a meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe. The main focus of the meeting was on preparedness and response to a number of emerging and emerging high impact transboundary crop and livestock pests and diseases, particularly Fall Armyworm (FAW), African Armyworm, Tomato Leaf Miner and the Maize Lethal Necrosis Diseases and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which are currently affecting or threatening the Southern African region, with potentially devastating impacts on livelihoods and food security. The linked report provides a summary of the outcome of the meeting, the current status of the fall armyworm, HPAI and other high impact transboundary pests and diseases in the region, and the actions agreed to strengthen the preparedness and response capacities of countries.
LEAP-Agri call for proposals is open

LEAP-Agri ERA-NET co-fund call for research proposals on "Sustainable Agriculture and Aquaculture for Nutrition and Food Security in Africa" is open - Read more»
Protein Research Foundation - Financial assistance

The Protein Research Foundation (PRF) is an independent Trust that administers funds for research and technology transfer, aimed at reducing the reliance of the feed industry in South Africa on imported protein for animal production. Applications for funding of new research projects have to reach the administration's office of the PRF by 2 May 2017 - More information»
Water & Climate Congress
22 - 24 March 2017
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Red Meat Abattoir Association Conference and Congress
17 - 19 May 2017 | Stellenbosch
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Annual Road Transport Legislation Workshop
23 May 2017 - Stellenbosch
25 May 2017 - Durban 
8 June 2017 - Pretoria 
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Fertasa Annual Congress
3 - 4 May 2017 | Durban
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Agri-finance for non-financial managers
30 May - 3 June 2016
Presented by Purdue University in Africa
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IFAMA 2017 World Conference
18 - 21 June 2017 | Miami, Florida, USA
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Workshop on Bioinformatics and Wheat Genomics
28 June 2017 | Worcester, Western Cape
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11th Agribusiness Africa Conference
4 - 5 July 2017 |  Emperors Palace | Johannesburg

PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa Conference and Trade Show
16 - 17 August 2017 |  CTICC, Cape Town

Skills Development Summit
31 Aug - 1 September 2017 | CSIR, Pretoria
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International Conference on Global Food Security 
3 - 6 December 2017 | Cape Town  International Convention Centre 
Conference Theme: Food Security: Global challenges, local solutions
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Please note: We will not publish an Agbiz newsletter on Friday, 24 March 2017.  For news enquiries, please contact Natalie on 012 807 6686.
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