2 October 2020
NWU Business School Policy Uncertainty Index
The NWU Business School Policy Uncertainty Index (PUI) at 58.0 for the third quarter of 2020 remained deep in negative territory, compared with 57.4 in the second quarter of 2020 (baseline 50). The PUI is therefore still on a high plateau for now. The world economy continued to grapple with the impact of Covid-19 and its consequences, although some countries have fared better than others. A global recovery is apparent, but it is very uneven across countries and economic sectors. Please click here to peruse.
SA agricultural jobs decline by 5% y/y in Q2, 2020      
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey data for the second quarter of 2020 showed that South Africa's primary agricultural employment declined by 5% (or 43 029 jobs) from the corresponding period last year to 799 033. This is unsurprising as the social-distancing regulations introduced at the end of March 2020, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, meant that farmers and agribusiness were not able to increase employment, especially of seasonal labour in the same way they would have in the absence of the pandemic, in years of an agricultural bumper harvest as in 2019/20 season. Also, the mild decline in employment confirms our anticipation that farmers might have kept most of the labour force that was already on farms in the first quarter to assist with the harvesting process of horticulture and field crops. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked article.
Higher summer grains and oilseed prices raise risks for livestock farmers

In an article, written for and first published in Business Day, Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo notes that there has been a persistent upsurge of summer grains and oilseed prices. South Africa had its second-largest maize harvest on record at about 15.5-million tonnes (yellow maize 6.5-million tonnes and white maize 9-million tonnes) and the third-largest soya bean harvest on record (about 1.26-million tonnes) - yet commodity prices do not reflect the increased production. On September 25, the soya bean spot price was at R8 100 a tonne, up 39% year on year. White and yellow maize spot prices ended the week at R3 494 a tonne and R3 350 a tonne respectively, each up about 23%. While it is tempting to be excited about these price levels as they mean a better financial position for grain farmers, who have endured droughts over the past two years, they raise the risks for poultry, dairy and other livestock farmers, who are the major consumers of yellow maize and soya beans as feed ingredients. Please click here to peruse.
SA set to have the largest wheat harvest in a decade, and largest canola and barley harvest on record

This week the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) reaffirmed its view that South Africa's 2020/21 wheat crop could be the largest in a decade, while the canola and barley harvest could be the largest on record. The CEC lifted all the production forecasts of all the aforementioned crops by 3% each from last month's levels as favourable rainfall suggests that there could be good yields in several regions. The current estimates suggest that South Africa's 2020/21 wheat, barley and canola production could increase by 32% y/y, 51% y/y and 33%, respectively, to 2.02 million tonnes, 520 106 tonnes and 126 520 tonnes. The winter crop planting was delayed which means that the crop will require moisture for a longer period than the usual months. We think for the current expected large harvest to materialize, the Western Cape and other winter crop producing provinces will need sufficient moisture until the end of October, which is plausible according to the weather forecasts. Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article.
Taking stock of recent domestic and global grains monthly data 

In the linked blogpost, Wandile Sihlobo provides an update of South Africa's grain trade data for the week of 18 September 2020. He also shares highlights from the International Grain Council monthly global grains update report. South Africa exported 34 663 tonnes of maize in the week of 18 September 2020. About 37% to South Korea, and the rest to Southern Africa markets (primarily Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Lesotho). This placed South Africa's 2020/21 total maize exports at 1.46 million tonnes, which equates to 54% of the seasonal export forecast (2.70 million tonnes). Yellow maize exports accounted for 75% of the volume already exported, with 25% being white maize. The leading markets thus far are Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea for yellow maize, and the Southern African countries (Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini and Namibia), mainly for white maize.
Strategies for land reform and agriculture

Oxford University historian, William Beinart, recently published a review of Wandile Sihlobo's book, Finding Common Ground, in the South African Journal of Science. He writes: "This book is a very welcome intervention - an optimistic discussion with a strong sense that, despite the legacies of apartheid and divisive politics, problems can be solved. It is the approach of a well-informed, sensitive observer who advocates building on successful models of production and technical advances. This is what South Africa needs." Please click here to peruse.
Transforming the workplace for women in agriculture and beyond

It is dangerous being a woman in South Africa. It is especially difficult being a working woman in South Africa. This includes issues of inflexible working conditions, as well as shocking statistics about aspects like workplace sexual harassment of which women are by far the majority of victims, and men are the vast majority of perpetrators. Agri-sector-specific statistics are not widely available, therefore the focus on general issues that have relevance to all sectors. Jahni de Villiers of Labour Amplified explores this subject in the linked article.
Support industry's unique initiative

Stakeholders in the entire value chain of the South African grain industry have joined hands and established a trust like nowhere else in the world. Producers should support this nationwide industry initiative to maintain food security and global competitiveness in the new marketing year. Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer discusses the functions of the newly established South African Winter Cereal Industry Trust in the linked article, first published in Landbouweekblad.
Grobank, Access Bank in gateway to Africa transaction

In an exciting move expected to deliver a robust banking operation that connects key African markets, Access Bank Plc has entered into a definitive agreement with the holding company of Grobank Limited, GroCapital Holdings Limited, to invest up to R400 million into the bank over the next two years. The investment will be made in two tranches with an initial cash consideration for a 49% shareholding, and a second transaction, increasing to a majority equity stake, with both tranches subject to various regulatory approvals. Grobank CEO Bennie van Rooy says the transaction remains subject to shareholder, regulatory and Competition Commission approvals, and that the initial transaction is expected to become unconditional on or before 31 October 2020. Please click here to read more.
Citrus industry eyes more markets to avoid risk of oversupply and price cuts

What would 2-million tonnes of citrus (we expect to export just more than this amount in 2020) look like if all the fruit was stacked together in one place, is one of the questions Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa, answered in a Business Day article. "An expert's calculations reveal that it equals 9.6-billion pieces of fruit, which if strung in a single line would cover 720 000km, circling the earth almost 18 times or nearly reaching to the moon and back. If these pieces of fruit were placed on the ground it would cover an area of 7 500 football fields." Please click here to read the full article.
Ginger: a challenging crop, but well worth the effort

South Africa's booming macadamia industry has presented an interesting opportunity for growers of the crop to cultivate ginger. Since both crops demand the same climate, and macadamia trees take five years before they are in production, the rows between the trees offer an ideal space during this period to plant ginger. This is what led Jaco Lubbe near Kiepersol, Mpumalanga, to take up growing a crop that he well knew was difficult. His father, Japie, was one of the first ginger producers in South Africa and first planted the crop some 20 years ago, but then gave up cultivating it. Please click here to read the complete article, first published in Farmer's Weekly.
Analysts could be headed for a US corn, soy stocks miss

Industry analysts are predicting a highly unlikely scenario when it comes to Sept. 1 supplies of US corn and soya beans, which could set up a surprise when the US Department of Agriculture publishes those numbers on Wednesday.  The trade expects both Sept. 1 corn and soya bean inventories, effectively ending stocks for the 2019-20 marketing year, to land within 0.2% of what USDA projected earlier this month. In the last 20 years, that has happened once for corn and never for soya beans. Please click here to read the complete Reuters article
Record-setting CBOT soy rally working on US acreage surge for 2021 

Chicago-traded soya beans have been on an uncharacteristic run over the last several weeks, breaking through double-digit prices for the first time in the US-China trade war era, possibly incentivizing US producers to significantly boost bean plantings next year. The recent rally is unprecedented. On Wednesday, most-active November soya beans finished at $10.11-1/4 per bushel, up 15% since the Aug. 12 report from the US government. Those August numbers provide the first in-depth view of the season on US harvest prospects and generally remove a lot of supply uncertainty. Read more in the linked Reuters article.
Latest issue of Harvest SA

Issue 48 of Harvest SA, focuses on the potential of technology to transform the agricultural landscape for the benefit of all who work within it. Agricultural economist Kobus Laubscher offers insight into how digital technology can be harnessed to help create a new dispensation on the farm: one that will attract and retain talent within the horizon of the Fourth Agricultural Revolution. Of course, as is often the case in farming, technology is worthless without the human element, as Laubscher emphasizes. In parallel, the issue looks at the investment case for technologically enabled agriculture as well as the critical investments in this space. Further highlights of the issue include a look at how the Nespresso brand is supporting sustainable agriculture, studies on plants used for essential oils and traditional medicines, and profiles of women making a success of growing sugar cane. It also looks at the fortunes of the citrus and potato sectors and takes the reader on a fascinating agri-tourism trip through Tesselaarsdal. Please click here to view the fully interactive digital publication.
 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. 

For more information, please visit the congress web page. 
AFMA Technical Writing Skills Workshop
12 October 2020
Virtual workshop

PMA Fresh Summit 2020
13-15 October 2020 Virtual event
Fresh Summit has always been the family reunion for the produce and floral industries where buyers and sellers come together to do business, and this year is no different. You'll get all the connections, content, and community you expect - and more!

 2020 AgriAllAfrica Agribusiness Conference - POSTPONED TO 2021
Theme: "Imagined responses to Covid-19: Progress with the development of solutions"
6 May 2021 | CSIR | Pretoria 
Enquiries: Marianna.duplessis@gmail.com | +27 063 076 9135

MPO Virtual Annual National Congress
4 November 2020 
Contact Julie McLachlan: julie@mpo.co.za or 083 740 2720
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
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