During the lockdown the Agbiz office will be closed,  but all staff members are operating remotely and will be conducting their roles as normal from home offices.
24 April 2020
President Ramaphosa relaxes national lockdown to level four from 1 May
South Africa's strict national lockdown will be partially relaxed from next week Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday evening. He  said South Africa would follow a risk-adjusted approach to the return of economic activity. The need to limit the spread of the coronavirus would be balanced with the need to get people back to work. He said five different levels would determine the severity of the lockdown from May 1, with five being a hard lockdown and one being almost completely lifted. The president  said the country's lockdown would move to level four from 1 May.  Cabinet ministers would hold media briefings on Saturday to expand on the details. Please click here for a transcript of the president's address.
B4SA expresses support for the new economy
Business for South Africa (B4SA) - the alliance of volunteer resources from across South African business bodies and organisations, member companies large and small, including professional services firms - expresses its full support for President Cyril Ramaphosa's historic and significant R500 billion fiscal stimulus package, which is equivalent to some 10% of the country's GDP. The three-phase plan announced by President Ramaphosa on 21 April 2020 directly aligns to the work being done by B4SA to find sustainable solutions to stabilise South Africa's economy, while at the same time addressing the current economic decline, protecting jobs and initiating a radical economic change plan. The president has finely balanced the fiscal stimulus package between relief for social stress, and an ongoing emphasis on protecting lives as well as stimulating economic regeneration. Please click B4SA media statement to peruse.
South Africa's Covid-19 cases surge to 3 953, with 10 more deaths
South Africa now has 3 953 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 10 new deaths, taking the death toll to 75, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize confirmed on Thursday. This is an increase of 318 new infections from Wednesday, the highest single jump since the virus entered South Africa's shores in March. The total number of deaths from the virus now also stands at 75. The minister said over 143 000 tests had been conducted nationwide, with over 54 000 tests being conducted in the public sector. Please click health ministry's media statement for the latest update.
B4SA Covid-19 response - dynamic risk assessment findings
As part of its response, Business for South Africa (B4SA) has performed a comprehensive risk assessment of the significant strategic risks arising from the Covid-19 crisis. Most of the risks faced are not discrete, but are interconnected and form a network of risks with cross dependencies and influences. Further, they are changing rapidly and what was at the apex in one week can become weak or irrelevant in a very short space of time.  In such a situation it is not sufficient to assess the risks using only likelihood and impact. The Dynamic Risk Assessment (DRA) methodology has been used (survey undertaken on 10 and 11 April 2020) to assist in understanding the complexity of the interconnected risk landscape. The DRA analysis is a strong tool to guide action plans, allowing maximum use of the resources available and is being shared with government and business, as various risk owners, for their consideration. Please click here to peruse.
G20 extraordinary agriculture ministers meeting, 21 April 2020 
The G20 meeting held earlier this week focused on pushing forward with the commitment made last month at a G20 Summit when leaders pledged to enhance global cooperation, and ensure and facilitate trade flows of agricultural products to safeguard global food security and nutrition. The ministers of agriculture of the G20 adopted a ministerial statement  on Covid-19, which reaffirms "the importance of working to ensure the continued flow of food, products, and inputs essential for agricultural and food production across borders." The declaration also points out that G20 countries "will work together to help ensure that sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious food continues to be available and accessible to all people, including the poorest, the most vulnerable, and displaced people." The meeting was also attended by the heads of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and a representative of the World Bank.
Agbiz announces appointment of new general manager for Agbiz Grain
Agbiz is pleased to announce that Wessel Lemmer has been appointed as the new general manager of Agbiz Grain, a fully-fledged and dedicated desk under the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz). He will assume responsibilities in July 2020 and will succeed Mariana Purnell, who is retiring at the end of June. Purnell has led Agbiz Grain since it was established by the 12 largest commercial grain-handling and storage companies in South Africa in November 2014. "We are excited to welcome Lemmer to the Agbiz family," Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase said. "His track record, vast experience in the agricultural space and in-depth industry knowledge make him the ideal candidate to build on the work and achievements of Mariana Purnell and the Agbiz Grain team." Read more in the Agbiz media statement.
Further tax measures to combat Covid-19

The Minister of Finance announced the details of an initial set of measures on 29 March 2020 to assist tax compliant businesses with cash flow assistance and provide an incentive for businesses to retain their lower-income employees. In line with the president's address to the nation on 21 April 2020, the Minister of Finance provided more detail on the second set of measures that aim to assist individuals and businesses through the pandemic. There is a critical need for government interventions to assist with job retention and support businesses that may be experiencing significant distress. Please click here to peruse.
What policy interventions have been implemented to support SA agriculture? 

It is crucial to assist small-scale farmers that were already struggling prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is important to also continuously assess the impact of the pandemic on established farmers to ensure that national food security is maintained at all times.  To this effect, the manner in which the department evaluates the impact of the Covid-19 regulations on these specific farmers and the mechanisms on how the funds will be disbursed has to balance the need for transformative disbursements and food security. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published on Daily Maverick.
Some positive developments in the global wheat market

We have previously warned of the restrictions placed by countries on agricultural commodity exports, specifically rice and wheat. The concern was that restrictions in the world's larger supplier markets would inevitably result in drastic price increases of the aforementioned commodities, of which South Africa is a net importer of.  South Africa imports all of its rice and half of its wheat requirements. The restrictions on exports were announced in the Black Sea and Asia regions, although the world has large supplies of rice and wheat. The United States Department of Agriculture forecasts 2019/20 global wheat production at 764 million tonnes, up 4% y/y. And the 2019/20 rice production is estimated at 496 million tonnes, down by 1% y/y. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo.
Stats SA speeds up the monitoring of consumer prices

Since the beginning of the lockdown, Statistics South Africa has been measuring price changes for essential goods that appear in the Consumer Price Index and temporarily publishing inflation data weekly for a smaller range of goods. Taking a closer look at products within the Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages category of the basket, the products that experienced the biggest price rises between 2 and 16 April were milk, eggs and cheese, increasing by 2,9%, hot beverages (up 2,7%), and oils and fats (up 2,3%). The full report can be accessed here.
Peritum Agri Institute releases comic series to help businesses combat Covid-19 in the workplace 
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented human and health crisis. Organisations are concerned about the well-being of business, employees and customers.  Peritum Agri Institute strengthens the hand of organisations in navigating employees through this crisis with the release of the Covid Conquerer comic series The comic series takes a positive approach towards sensitising staff and management on key matters in ensuring a safe workplace. The series is available as short video clips, aimed at six topics of relevance, helping work teams to take ownership for a safe workplace whilst guiding managers in complying with regulations and best practice. The format makes it easy to distribute through all communication channels, relevant to all levels of staff. Please click media statement for more information.
The IMF's response to Covid-19
The IMF is responding to the coronavirus crisis with unprecedented speed and magnitude of financial assistance to help countries protect the lives and livelihoods of people, especially the most vulnerable. The fund is at the centre of the global financial safety net - and is deploying its entire lending capacity of US$1 trillion at the service of its membership. IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said  the fund is working 24/7 to support their member countries with policy advice, technical assistance and financial resources. In this FAQ you will find the fund's response to Covid-19 in more detail.
ECA report: Covid-19 in Africa - protecting lives and economies
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in a new report on the coronavirus pandemic, says more than 300 000 Africans could lose their lives due to Covid-19. This, as the pandemic continues to impact on the continent's struggling economies whose growth is expected to slow down from 3.2% to 1.8% in a best-case scenario, pushing close to 27 million people into extreme poverty. The economic costs of the pandemic have been harsher than the direct impact of the Covid-19. Across the continent, all economies are suffering from the sudden shock to the economies. World production of staple foods is currently strong; it is access to that supply that must be ensured.
The Global Report on Food Crises provides insights in Covid-19's effects on food insecurity
The 2020 edition of The Global Report on Food Crises describes the scale of acute hunger in the world. It provides an analysis of the drivers that are contributing to food crises across the globe, and examines how the Covid-19 pandemic might contribute to their perpetuation or deterioration. The report is produced by the Global Network against Food Crises, an international alliance working to address the root causes of extreme hunger.   In 2019 over 30 million people in 11 countries of Southern Africa - Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe - faced crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity. South Africa is not included in the study.
Covid-19 crisis is an opportunity to drive change
Today South Africa has a rare opportunity to fix bottlenecks in its economy, drive major economic change in its state-owned enterprises, remove constraints to doing business, and accelerate the inclusion in the mainstream of the economy of small and medium enterprises. The country has a better chance to correct the missed opportunities for economic transformation that have been a sore point for South Africa's black majority since the dawn of the democratic dispensation. This is the topic of discussion in the linked article by Mills Soko and Mzukisi Qobo, written for and first published on Daily Maverick.
Food aid parcels in South Africa could do with a better nutritional balance 

Providing food to the most vulnerable during the pandemic will ensure relief where it is most needed. Striving to provide more nutritional food can ensure better health outcomes that will reach beyond the pandemic. A study by the University of Pretoria set out to determine whether the nutritional value of food parcels met the requirements of what is generally accepted as a nutritionally balanced diet. Please click here to read the article authored by Hester Vermeulen, Carmen Muller and Prof. Hettie Sch√∂nfeldt.
How to prepare your business for post-lockdown

South Africa as a developing economy cannot sustain the halt in production and the country will have to exit the lockdown in a step wise manner ensuring for the return to factory production and expansion of essential services. The risk still exists that if this is done haphazardly or in totality then the transmission risk will increase exponentially. The urgency to prepare factories, mining houses, and small and medium-sized industries has pre-empted the penning of an open-source Covid-19 guide for industry compiled by Business for South Africa (B4SA) to promote a safe working environment during the pandemic. Please feel free to utilise all or any parts of this document for your written policies and to guide your day-to-day processes ensuring the safety of staff, clients or customers reducing the spread of infection.This document is applicable to the following departments: human resources; health and safety; occupational health; and management. Please click here to peruse.
Farmers start to destroy their pigs after factories close

A wave of shutdowns at some of North America's largest meat plants is starting to force hog producers to dispose of their animals in the latest cruel blow to food supplies. Shuttered or reduced processing capacity has prompted some farmers in eastern Canada to euthanise hogs that were ready for slaughter, said Rick Bergmann, chair of the Canadian Pork Council. In Minnesota, farmers may have to cull 200 000 pigs in the next few weeks, according to an industry association. Carcasses are typically buried or rendered. Read more in the linked Bloomberg article.
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.
News from the citrus industry

Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa, shares the latest news from the citrus industry in his weekly newsletter.  Please click here  to peruse. 
Get the latest news from the FPEF

Keeping it Fresh, the newsletter of the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum, contains all the recent relevant news and developments. 
Tune in to virtual discussion on the agri value chain

Senwes, in collaboration with the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), will be hosting a virtual discussion series on the agricultural value chain. The discussion will kick off with an introduction by Senwes CEO Francois Strydom, followed by video presentations by Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase and BFAP managing director Prof. Ferdi Meyer. The first session is followed by two panel discussion session. The first panel discussion focuses on the meat industry value chain and the second discussion will focus on issues in the milling industry. The series will be available online on 24 April 2020 at 16:00. Please follow this link to register.
17-19  June 2020 | Cape Town International Convention Centre  | Cape Town

2020 AgriAllAfrica Agribusiness Conference and Exhibition
Theme: "Pioneering new agri horizons"
5 - 6 August 2020 | Diamond hall, CSIR | Pretoria
Enquiries: Marianna.duplessis@gmail.com | +27 063 076 9135

PMA Fresh Connections: Southern Africa Conference and Trade Show
19-20 August 2020  Sun Arena, Time Square, Menlyn Maine, Pretoria

MPO Annual National Congress, cheese-making course and AGMs
1-2 September 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

Soya Bean for Human Consumption Symposium
17 September 2020  | Pretoria

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.
  • Agbiz addresses the legislative and policy environment on the many fronts that it impacts on the agribusiness environment.
  • 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.
  • Agbiz research provides sector-specific information for informed decision-making.
  • Agbiz newsletter publishes members' press releases and member product announcements.

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