21 February 2020
Agda plans to drive agricultural development

The nonprofit Agricultural Development Agency (Agda), launched at Africa Agri Tech in Pretoria earlier this week, is a cross-sector, government-supported and private-sector-led initiative to develop farmers by providing technical skills and private-sector financial support and linking the farmers into supply chains.  The two-year initiative, conceptualised prior to, and announced at, the Presidential Jobs Summit in 2018, is championed by In Transformation Initiative director Roelf Meyer and led by acting CEO Leona Archary. The core concepts of the agency have been developed over the past two years through engagement with 20 agricultural commodity sectors and stakeholders throughout the value chains, including emerging and small-scale farmers, commercial farmers and the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Trade, Industry and Competition. Malcolm Ferguson, Agda board member, said the agency believes that, based on their research, it is able to provide sustainable finance to very large numbers of farmers, including smallholder and newly commercialising farmers. He said, "We believe this is possible working in conjunction with development funding institutions, such as the International Finance Corporation and the European Investment Bank."
Nedlac appoints a new executive director
The National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, has announced the appointment of Lisa Seftel as executive director. Nedlac plays a pivotal role in policy formulation as it is the statutory platform where organised business, organised labour, community and government meet to engage on draft policy and legislation affecting trade and industry, development and the labour market amongst others. While this critical institution has been plagued by certain governance and leadership challenges over the past few years, it remains a critical platform for formal engagement on the critical socio-economic challenges facing South Africa. In delivering the recent Sona, President Ramaphosa alluded to this important role of Nedlac in forging social compacts. Agbiz, through BUSA, plays a critical role in the various Nedlac chambers and task teams and welcomes the appointment of a full time executive director. The statement by the Department of Labour is linked.
BUSA aims to hold government accountable for Sona promises

Business Unity SA (BUSA) has welcomed some points raised in the State of the Nation Address (Sona), but plans to engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa about some issues he did not address.  Ahead of Sona, the business lobby group put out a wish list of what they would like president to address.  After the Sona, BUSA said they were "pleased the president referred to several of our recommendations and announced some movement in some of them. However, we would like to see a sense of urgency in approaching the structural challenges in the economy." Please click on BUSA's statement to peruse.
Landbank appoints new CEO

The Land Bank recently announced that Ayanda Kanana has been appointed as the chief executive officer of the Land Bank, effective 1 March 2020. This follows an intensive search for a suitable CEO, where the Board made a recommendation to the Minister of Finance, who has concurred with this appointment. Kanana is a qualified chartered accountant, with in-depth knowledge of the agriculture sector and is currently the chief executive officer of the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market. Press release
Agbiz CEO comments on Sona in eNCA programme

Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase commented on President Cyril Ramaphoas's State of the Nation Address in a programme on eNCA that was aired on 18 February, Please click here to view the programme.
Grootplaas interview with Theo Boshoff

Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence  Theo Boshoff  explains what the effect would be should the planned amendment to section 25 of the Constitution were to go through in an interview on Grootplaas, that was aired on 11   February, Please click here to view.
This is how Cyril Ramaphosa's speech affects agriculture
FAO Report
Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo's take on President Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (Sona) can be segmented into three areas. Firstly, the president reaffirmed the government's commitment to various sectoral master plans that are currently being developed, with specific mention of the textile and clothing, sugar and poultry master plans. These are industries that have been under pressure in the recent past, in part, because of rising input costs and stiff competition from imported products. Trade policy has a role in stabilising these industries. Importantly, the master plans highlight that leveraging public-private partnerships is key to ensuring that plans are not only drafted on paper and shelved, but there is a commitment to execution. Please click here for Wandile Sihlobo's article, written for and first published in Business Day.
South Africa's food price inflation to remain subdued in 2020
South Africa's food prices increased at a relatively slower pace in January 2020 compared to December 2019. The data released by Statistics South Africa shows that the country's food price inflation was at 3.7% y/y in January 2020, while the previous month was 3.8% y/y. This deceleration, however, was not across the food basket. Only price inflation of bread and cereals; fish; and vegetables decelerated. But this was enough to overshadow the increases in meat; milk, eggs and cheese; oil and fats; fruit; sugar, sweets and desserts. Wandile Sihlobo shares his insights in the linked article.
Understanding South Africa's agriculture trade patterns
After reaching a record level of $10.6-billion in 2018, South Africa's agricultural exports fell by 8% year-on-year (y/y) in 2019 to $9.8-billion. This, however, was unsurprising as agricultural production data for 2019 showed a notable decline in a number of exportable commodities because of the drought.  The temporary ban on exports of livestock products and wool in 2019, following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at the start of the year, also contributed to the decline in exports. Be that as it may, the top exportable agricultural products for 2019 included citrus, wine, grapes, apples and pears, sugar, macadamia nuts, wool and maize. Wandile Sihlobo explores this subject in the linked article.
Cannabis, steaming all over Africa
South Africa is not the only African country that is suddenly taking interest in cannabis.  A number of African countries have in the recent past reformed their cannabis regulations - moving away from it being a prohibited drug to a source of income as an exportable commodity.  This is motivated by the promise of riches, with many policymakers viewing the burgeoning cannabis industry as offering prospects for boosting rural economic growth and job creation. Wandile Sihlobo discusses the cannabis boom in the linked article, written for and first published on HeraldLive.
Avocado bite
Avocado is one of the crops that make the headlines whenever there are unusual trends in its market. This is understandable as the fruit has become the favourite of many because of its health benefits, amongst others. Hence, we feel compelled to caution fellow South Africans that when one sees the 46% year-on-year decline in South Africa's avocado exports of 2019 to 47 940 tonnes, they should not worry much.  It is not that South Africa is regressing, but rather more of normalisation. The exports of 2018 were an exception because of an unusual bumper harvest that year. South Africa's avocados production reached a record level of 169 243 tonnes in 2018, from 101 377 tonnes the previous year. As a result of this, exports increased notably. Read more on the topic in Wandile Sihlobo's blogpost.
Traceability in red meat industry under discussion

The recent foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks in the FMD-free zone has propelled the red meat industry to re-evaluate the urgency and importance of implementing a national Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS-SA). On 30 January 2020, livestock industry role players, agricultural organisations and government collaborated at a LITS information day to plan the way forward. Some of the organisations that were involved in the information day included the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF), Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO), National Emergent Red Meat Producers' Organisation (NERPO), the South African Feedlot Association (SAFA), as well as the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz). Government representatives included Mooketsa Ramasodi, deputy director general of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DARDLR) and Dr Mike Modisane, chief director of DARDLR. A report on the information day is available here.
Minister lifts temporary ban on all auctions

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza announced earlier this week that the blanket ban on the gathering of animals is now lifted. The minister's decision follows the briefing she received from the technical task team. The minister said there are preconditions for the resumption of auctions and auctions will only be conducted under stringent conditions. She stressed that lifting the temporary ban does not imply that such activities are safe. Therefore, she is advising all role players to adhere to the measures to prevent their animals from becoming infected. Press release
Old world countries fashion a new market's taxes

Having addressed Europe's changing regulatory landscape regarding cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products, it is worthwhile for industry stakeholders to review the new taxes and changes to tax codes. Currently, the US government is projected to collect nearly $20 Billion in federal tax revenue between 2018 and 2025. Across the pond, regulators in some of the new old-world markets are approaching taxation in innovative ways, with various impacts on the growing market.  At the heart of Europe lies ever-neutral Switzerland, who last year decided to tax the sale of hemp flower at 25%, the same as for tobacco sales. Read more in the linked article published on New Frontier Data.
Avocados in Kenya: what's holding back smallholder farmers?

K enya is the world's third largest producer of avocados. It's also Kenya's leading fruit export, accounting for nearly one-fifth of its total horticultural exports.  But Kenya only exports 10% of its total avocado production. By comparison, Chile exports 55% and South Africa exports 60%.   Avocado is grown in several parts of Kenya and about 70% of avocado production is by small-scale growers. They grow it for subsistence, local markets, and export purposes. Read more in the linked article, published on The Conversation.
Bacteria-sniffing dogs are protecting your orange juice from a global citrus pandemic

Trained to sniff out the pathogen that causes citrus greening, these USDA-trained canines are helping track down the destructive disease to help farmers stop the bacteria before it destroys their farms. The dogs, specially trained by USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists, are able to detect infected trees months or even years before they show symptoms, preventing the spread of citrus greening to more trees in a field. With an accuracy rate between 92% and 99%, these dogs could be the answer to saving the citrus industry. Read more in the linked article published on Fast Company.
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.
Diarise annual CCMA Labour Conference
The CCMA is convening its 3rd Annual CCMA Labour Conference at Emperor's Palace, Ekurhuleni on 11 March. It is organised by the CCMA and hence any interested party can attend. If you would like to attend the event, please RSVP by following this link to complete the registration form and for more information about the conference.This conference is an annual event intended for the CCMA and its stakeholders, where prominent and leading professionals share a stage to deliberate on the ever-changing and demanding labour market environment, in which the CCMA plays a pivotal role. In light of the aforementioned context, and being cognisant to the current socio-economic climate and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the 2020 CCMA Labour Conference will focus on employers and the business community under the theme "The role of employers in the changing world of work". 
AFMA Forum 2020
Theme: "Explore today for a better tomorrow"
3-5 March 2020 | Sun City | South Africa

Skills Development Summit & Achiever Awards 
4-5 March 2020 | CSIR Convention Centre | Pretoria
Contact  Gordon Campbell: gordon.campbell@skillssummit.co.za

Women in Tech Africa 2020 Conference 
18-19 March  | 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

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
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