20 July 2018

It is no secret that South Africa, like many emerging economies around the world, is struggling to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. These challenges are not insurmountable, but we are currently on the wrong side of the curve with signs that the economy is more concentrated than ever before. Unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, is a ticking time bomb as the majority of South Africans are excluded from the mainstream economy. Theo Boshoff, Agbiz Head: Legal Intelligence provides more information in the linked article.

The South African Grain Information Services (SAGIS) held its annual general meeting (AGM) at Intundla Game Lodge, Dinokeng, on 19 July 2018. In a constantly changing environment filled with political, economic and climate change challenges, the best decisions with regard to global food security can only be made if factual information is at hand. SAGIS is proud to serve the grain and oilseeds markets by fulfilling this important need by taking on new opportunities, tackling challenges and adapting to change, whilst staying true to its main objective and values. SAGIS is the only company in South Africa that provides actual data regarding whole grain and oilseeds, as well as data on maize, wheat and oilseeds products, all collected under statutory measures. SAGIS is recognised nationally and internationally as the most reliable provider of market information related to grain and oilseeds in Southern Africa. Please click for the 2017/18 financial year to peruse the major activities and highlights, including new leadership.

Earlier in 2018 I shared the positive outlook for South Africa's summer and winter crop production. As farmers wind up the summer crop harvest process and winter crop planting approaches completion in the country, I think it's appropriate to present an update again. This time around I have good and bad news. Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research, shares 
more information in the linked article.

Agriculture has its fair share of challenges, but I try to find uplifting domestic and regional developments to discuss. This week, agricultural trade was in my cross hairs. For context, I recently reflected on the positive trade performance in calendar 2017, when South Africa's agricultural exports surpassed $10 billion (about R134 billion) for the first time, boosted by growth in exports of edible fruits, beverages, spirits, vegetables, grains and other farm products. The $10.0 billion figure represented a 15% year-on-year increase from $8.7 billion. Africa and Europe were the largest destinations for agricultural exports, collectively absorbing 67% of total exports last year in value terms. Asia was also an important market, taking 24%. The Americas and the rest of the world accounted for 5% and 4%, respectively. In the same period, imports increased by 5% year on year, reaching $6.7 billion, particularly driven by wheat and rice. Read Wandile Sihlobo's article which first appeared on Business Times on 16 July 2018.

SMMEs are the backbone of the country's economy, providing the majority of job opportunities and contributing significantly to the GDP. For South Africa to resolve its high rate of unemployment and to alleviate poverty, a supportive environment needs to be created to facilitate small business survival and growth in order to ensure increased, sustainable job creation. SMME funding, also in the agricultural sector, is a critical component of this growth. Access to finance is one of the primary challenges for start-ups, micro, very small, small and medium businesses in the country, and one that needs urgent attention.  The purpose of the report is to map the landscape of providers and seekers of SMME funding in the country, and to identify the access to finance challenges, gaps, opportunities and potential solutions in order to promote increased financing success in this vital sector. Please click to peruse.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has published the Bee industry strategy to sustain the honey-bee population and manage apiculture in the Western Cape: management improvement plan. This strategic engagement was born out of the need to address a number of critical issues that are hampering the productivity and sustainability of the apiculture industry and the honeybee in the Western Cape.  Press release

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture commissioned a study  through the Stellenbosch University Business School, to develop a view on agriculture in the province in the context of the 4IR. This revolution refers to more than just the development and use of digital technologies, but how these interact across the digital and physical realms. New research into the 4IR has revealed how the Western Cape's agricultural sector can harness water-saving technology, drones, genetic development and robotics to develop the industry, contribute to food security and create new jobs in emerging fields.  

In terms of the provisions of section 49(2) of the Public Finance Management Act (1 of 1999), the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, has decided to designate three co-administrators as the accounting authority of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for the period 2 July 2018 to 30 January 2019, with all powers and duties necessary or incidental for the proper functioning of the SABS. Press release
The Toyota New Harvest of the Year Competition

This is the 11th year that the Toyota New Harvest of the Year Competition is being held. The objective of this competition is to identify and reward the most successful previously disadvantaged farmer in South Africa, and to give recognition to those people, institutions, organisations and agencies that are involved in the development of new farmers. The New Harvest Competition is aimed at individuals who have owned or operated/managed a farm for five years and longer, and who overcame a previously disadvantaged background to become a successful farmer. Many institutions/organisations are involved in the development of newly settled, historically disadvantaged farmers, as well as with well-established, successful commercial black farmers. By challenging these institutions to identify their most successful candidates, deserving finalists will be identified and rewarded. Click for the entry form.

The fifth Agbiz Grain Symposium will take place on Tuesday, 21 August at the CSIR in Pretoria. This year's theme is "Value chain impacts".

All the relevant role players in the grain industry, those involved in storage and handling of grain, as well as others involved in the grain value chain, will be attending. About 120 delegates are expected at the symposium.

The symposium will be an all-day event. The programme will be interactive to provide a platform for exchange of information, to engage in discussions, to share opinions and to ask open questions. Confirmed speakers who will present at the symposium are from Department of Transport, the University of Pretoria and the CSIR, plus a few surprises.

In line with the theme "Value chain impacts", sessions are dedicated to "On the move"; "On the farm"; "On the net"; "In the science"; and "In the future". The topics will comprise several issues affecting the entire grain value chain. The first session will cover road and rail transport in the grain industry. The second session is devoted to matters pertaining to the accessibility of information on the internet for the primary agricultural sector as well as the vitally important aspect of on-line security for a business and its employees. One session will be dedicated to scientific matters such as essential information regarding mycotoxins and endocrine disrupters which can affect the grain industry negatively. The symposium will close with presentations about the future of agriculture, focusing on visionary, but useful technologies.

We will end the day with time to network and exchange information with the exhibitors. Click for more information and to register.
International Soy for Human Health Conference
1-3 August 2018 | St George Hotel and Conference Centre | Pretoria
More information

PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa
Conference and Trade show
15-16 August, 2018 |  CSIR | Pretoria
Registration now open
Enquiries: Petrie Vogel, petrie@abevents.co.za

PMA Women's Fresh Perspectives:
Register now for the Women's Fresh Perspectives event which includes a luncheon with keynote 
speaker  Adv. Thuli Madonsela   @ThuliMadonsela3
This is a limited seating event! 

AGRI 5 Commodities Workshop and Expo
20-21 September 2018  East London Show Grounds
Contact info: 011 056 6856

Agbiz Grain Symposium
21 August 2018 | Pretoria
Enquiries: Mariana Purnell, mariana.purnell@agbizgrain.co.za

FERTASA Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition Symposium
21 August 2018 | CSIR | Pretoria
Enquiries:  candice@fertasa.co.za

56th Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA)
25-27 September 2018 | Lord Charles Hotel | Somerset West
Media release

Science Forum 2018
Theme: Win more, lose less: Capturing synergies between SDGs through agricultural research
10-12 October 2018| Stellenbosch

First Bi-annual International Soy for Human Health Conference 2019
11-13 March 2019 | St George Hotel | Pretoria
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