26 April 2019
Land reform panel finalising its report

In  a statement issued by the Presidency over the Easter weekend, Dr Vuyo Mahlati, chairperson of the Advisory Panel on Land Reform, said the panel was finalising its report for consideration by the Inter-Ministerial Committee and the Presidency. The statement was issued in response to media reports regarding a "leaked copy" of the report.  The panel was expected to submit its report to the Inter-Ministerial Committee by 31 March 2019. However, the panel requested an extension from the Presidency, citing, among other things, the interest in engagements with the panel via colloquia, roundtables and submissions. Dr  Mahlati said due to these developments, the panel required added time to consider all these inputs, which was granted by the President.
ESTA Bill to be implemented?

The Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment  (ESTA) Bill, which has dragged its feet through Parliament since 2015, was finally signed into law by the President earlier this year. As the Presidential Panel on Land Reform finalises its work and the country holds its breath to see what will happen post-elections, this is a crucial piece of land reform legislation that may have quietly slipped through the cracks. Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff provides more insight in the linked article.
Water licence applications - simplicity the ultimate sophistication?

Water is key to any agricultural enterprise, this is no secret. However, something which observers outside of the industry do not necessarily know, is just how difficult it is to obtain a water use authorisation. A recent study indicated that the average owner-run business spends up to seven days out of each month on admin and reporting related to compliance issues.  Theo Boshoff elaborated on this topic in an interview on KykNET's programme Grootplaas on 17 April. 2019.
SA summer and winter crop production prospects lifted marginally

Recent figures from South Africa's Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) paint a somewhat positive picture of the country's summer and winter crop prospects. In terms of the summer crop, the CEC lifted its estimates for South Africa's 2018/19 grains and oilseeds production for a third consecutive month by 1.3% from March 2019 to 12.8 million tonnes. There were upward revisions across all summer grains and oilseeds which comprise white and yellow maize, sunflower seed, soybeans, groundnuts, sorghum, and soybeans.  Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo provides more insight in the linked article.
It's a good time for SA to diversify wool export market

It has been nearly two months since the Chinese authorities temporarily suspended wool imports from South Africa because of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak earlier in the year. Recent communication from Cape Wool SA,following a meeting with its Chinese counterpart,suggests there could be further delays before the suspension is lifted. The reasons for this include the recent reshuffle of the Chinese government departments including that of agriculture and customs, and the continuous outbreak of African swine fever in some parts of China, which are all key priorities for the Chinese agricultural ministry at the moment. Wandile Sihlobo elaborates in the linked article written for and first published in Business Day and in a  radio interview on SAFM.
Latest African swine fever outbreak in Mpumalanga poses no threat

Animal health is increasingly becoming a key issue in South Africa. This year we've had cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the beef industry, and African swine fever in the pork industry. But the degree of impact to each industry has differed. In the case of beef, the disease outbreak led to a temporary ban on South Africa's beef exports to some countries. And it also negatively affected our wool trade with China.  But African swine fever did not have a notable impact on the pork industry. But on 24 April 2019, the South African Pork Producers' Organisation notified us of another diagnosis on a small farm in the Delmas area of Mpumalanga. Wandile Sihlobo provides more insight in the  linked blogpost.
Positive developments for SA beef industry

Fourteen weeks since the first case of foot-and-mouth disease was detected, which led to a ban of South African livestock products exports, we can now see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.  South Africa's ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries released a joint statement with the livestock industry informing us of the successful negotiations to reopen beef exports to Bahrain, Lesotho, Mozambique, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Swaziland, Seychelles, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Wandile Sihlobo elaborates in the linked blogpost.
Survey confirms structural shift in research spend

Agri SA released its 2019 survey which shows the agriculture sector has undergone a discernible structural shift in research spend. The survey indicates that the spend is moved away from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and towards a variety of private institutions, universities and other government agencies to an estimated 75% of agricultural research spend. This is in drastic contrast to the traditional position of the ARC serving as the nexus of South African agricultural research and presents a set of urgent policy questions. Please click here for more information on the survey.
Rooftop farms may be next big thing in agri-business

City-wide hydroponic rooftop farming co-operatives have the potential to become the next big thing in commercial agriculture. The prediction comes from Signium Africa, an executive search and talent management company with a large book of agri-business clients in South Africa and across the sub-Saharan region.  Annelize van Rensburg, director responsible for Signium Africa's agriculture portfolio, says first signs of the rooftop farming explosion are already evident, with black small-scale entrepreneurs in the forefront. Please click here to peruse.
UK call to apply for innovation funding

The British High Commission has announced a funding opportunity for possible collaboration with UK partners. Apart from a focus on South Africa, numerous other African countries can also be included in such a partnership. UK businesses and research organisations can apply for a share of up to £3 million from DFID and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for projects with partners in eligible African countries. The registration of projects for this competition closes on Wednesday on 29 May 2019 12:00pm. The aim of this competition is to increase the pace of development and scale of uptake of agricultural and food systems technology and innovation in Africa by farmers and other food systems actors such as manufacturers, processors, retailers, distributors and wholesalers. Read more details about this opportunity at  Agri-tech Catalyst round 8: agriculture and food systems innovation.
SA Large Herds Conference
3-5 June 2019  The Boardwalk  Port Elizabeth

2019 Cannabis Conference
Theme: The big business of cannabis
27-28 June 2019 | Emperors Palace Convention Centre Johannesburg
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13th Agribusiness Africa Conference 
10 July 2019 Premier Hotel | OR Tambo Airport
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PMA Fresh Connections: SA Conference and Trade Show  
30-31 July 2019 | Century City | Cape Town

Agbiz Grain 2019 Symposium 
14 August 2019  |  CSIR International Convention Centre | Pretoria

Agritech Africa
19-21 June 2019 | Kenyatta International Conference & Convention Center (KICC), Nairobi  | Kenya

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