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.
3 April 2020
Covid-19: We ain't seen nothing yet, warns Agbiz CEO

Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase spoke to Food For Mzansi in an exclusive podcast interview about the work being done behind the scenes to keep the food supplies flowing. "We must understand that this crisis is going to have a huge economic impact. I somehow think that people are underestimating it. A number of businesses - and not just in agriculture, especially outside agriculture - will not survive. Some are already closing down," he says. Please click here to listen to the podcast.
Agbiz part of Business for SA initiative
Apart from Agbiz' leading role in the Covid-19 Response Task Team constituted by Minister Thoko Didiza and her team at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Agbiz, through its role in Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and the Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI), has been involved in establishing Business for SA. Business for SA brings together BUSA, Black Business Council (BBC), PPGI and others in a concerted effort by the private sector to address the health threat of COVID-19 specifically, and also the economic depression and labour (unemployment) fallout that will result. While raised on the Agriculture Covid-19 Response Task Team agenda, key issues of the collapse of the informal food market and distribution system, the catastrophe (gridlock) that developed in the ports due to ridiculous cutbacks in operations (to around 35% of capacity)  and various other worker and worker movement aspects, have primarily been addressed through the Business for SA platform. Agbiz has achieved considerable success by collaborating within this initiative and strongly urges to visit the Business for SA website  (www.businessforsa.org ) to access daily reports on the progress being made to fight COVID-19, but also to learn of economic relief measures being negotiated and implemented.
BUSA statement on Moody's downgrading SA to junk status
Business Unity SA (BUSA) notes with dismay the decision by Moody's Investors Service to downgrade SA to "junk status". This rating downgrade comes at a time that the country is in the midst of pulling all its resources and capacity together to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 across economic, social and health sectors. The country's resources and capacity are being stretched in addressing this extraordinary situation and the downgrade opens another major challenge for SA. Please click BUSA media statement to peruse.
Covid-19 lockdown: South African ports open for cargo operations
In compliance with the national lockdown, the Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) has sent out numerous communications on how the ports will be operating during this period. In support of this, the South African Maritime Safety Authority, on behalf of the Department of Transport, informed all stakeholders in the linked marine notice that:

* all South African ports remain open for port operations;
* cargo operations will continue in all ports;
* stevedore operations will continue in all ports;
* all types of cargo will be allowed to be loaded and off-loaded.
Economic policies for the Covid-19 war
The Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis like no other. It feels like a war, and in many ways it is. People are dying. Medical professionals are on the front lines. Those in essential services, food distribution, delivery, and public utilities work overtime to support the effort. And then there are the hidden soldiers: those who fight the epidemic confined in their homes, unable to fully contribute to production.  In a war, massive spending on armaments stimulates economic activity and special provisions ensure essential services. In this crisis, things are more complicated, but a common feature is an increased role for the public sector. Read more in the linked IMF blog, which is part of a special series on the response to the coronavirus.
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announces amendments to lockdown regulations
In a quest to reinforce the national response and following extensive consultations with the Ministers responsible for the Covid-19 interventions and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the Minister of COGTA, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has gazetted further amendments to the Regulations on the Covid-19 lockdown.  These amendments will enhance national integrated response measures while also clarifying the application of the regulations relating to government's measures to reduce the risk of infection and curtail the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus while maintaining the integrity of the lockdown. Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff made a brief summary of the latest amendment which entered into operation on Thursday 2 April 2020 . 
What does the recent downgrade to sub-investment grade mean for SA agriculture?
On 27 March 2020, Moody's downgraded South Africa's sovereign credit rating to sub-investment grade and placed a negative outlook on the rating. The key drivers for this downgrade include weak economic growth, continuing deterioration in fiscal strength, and slow progress on structural economic reforms. It is now the first time in post-apartheid South Africa where all major rating agencies, i.e. Moody's, Fitch and S&P, have South Africa's credit ratings in sub-investment grade territory. The key question some might be asking is what this means for South Africa's agriculture? Wandile Sihlobo explores this subject in the linked article.
Which farmers will benefit from emergency aid, and who will need it?
Food products and nonalcoholic beverages have been classified as essential goods, and their production, distribution and retailing will continue during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown period. As such, one could expect the impact on the agricultural sector to be minimal, but is that true?  Read more on this in an article by Prof. Johann Kirsten, professor of agricultural economics at Stellenbosch University and director of the Bureau for Economic Research, and Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published in Business Day.
Questions and answers on lockdown for business

The Covid-19 pandemic has required a rapid response from all parties in South Africa, including business.  Since the lockdown announcement, there have been many important questions that require urgent answers.  As such, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) has compiled a list of questions and answers which constitutes their expectations as to how the business lockdown will take effect. It is not an official document, but intended to bring some clarity to businesses in the interim.  "We appeal to all businesses to respect the importance of the lockdown. Sacrifices will need to be made in the broader interests of the country and our people." This information is accurate as at the date of publishing this information, however the regulations may change quite rapidly so it is recommended that you check the South African government website frequently to stay on top of any amendments which may affect your business.
Urgent call for businesses to divert PPE inventories to national healthcare sector

Business for SA's Public Health Workgroup is calling on all companies, especially those in lockdown, to urgently divert their stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in the national healthcare sector. The PPE is critically needed to protect frontline doctors and healthcare workers, and to keep them healthy in their fight against the pandemic. Stavros Nicolaou, who leads the Public Health Workgroup for Business for South Africa says: "As we head deeper into the Covid-19 crisis, we are going to need all the masks, gloves and protective equipment we can source to ensure the healthcare sector has a ready and ongoing supply. We appeal to all South African businesses, whether large or small, to unlock their stocks in the best national interest. Read more in the linked media statement. Listen to a radio interview with Dr Purchase regarding this call from Business for SA at this link.
Transnet Freight Rail remains operational during lockdown

In the lockdown regulations, farming together with the distribution of food was declared an essential service that will continue. Rail services and the rest of the Transnet operations were included in the determination. Jan-Louis Spoelstra of Transnet Freight Rail says "the movement of food has been placed as a high priority inside Transnet and we will do everything we can to ensure that we move as much as we can to the different processing plants as well as where we can, the final products to the distribution centres. The export and import of food products (all grain) will continue and we will ensure that we prioritise capacity to make this possible." Any requirement for additional capacity, in addition to the requests already confirmed by Transnet Freight Rail, should be communicated to Jan-Louis Spoelstra and his colleagues at Transnet Freight Rail. Spoelstra says: "In my opinion it makes sense to prioritise the movement of cargo by rail as this will reduce the movement of lorries and people over the provincial boundaries and as such increase the risk of spreading the virus throughout the country. The use of rail will increase our efforts to enforce social distancing."
50 000 meals for vulnerable communities

As South Africa responds to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the B4i Empowerment Group has shifted gear and turned its focus towards the most vulnerable amongst us. Through the Business for Empowerment Foundation (B4EF) it will assist those who cannot sustain themselves for the duration of the pandemic and are merely fighting to obtain food for just another day. The B4i Empowerment Group has been proactive by instructing small local food manufacturers to prepack highly nutritional dry food packs for distribution to the targeted beneficiaries. As an immediate measure, it has allocated approximately a million rand in cash to these identified NPOs that are strained towards payment of salaries and other running costs. Read more in the linked B4i media statement.
Pork producers launch #YesMrPresident Campaign

The South African Pork Producers' Organisation (SAPPO) launched its digital Facebook #YesMrPresident Campaign. "SAPPO believes that South Africa's leaders are facing a daunting task to navigate the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic and with our #YesMrPresident Campaign we want to demonstrate our solidarity with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his colleagues," says Johann Kotzé, CEO of SAPPO. "Agriculture is one of the essential services and is exempt from the lockdown; farmers will continue to produce food for South Africans. This comes with added risks as it requires people in the industry to travel and work shoulder to shoulder. The agricultural sector wants to show that it is doing the right things to keep people safe. We want to show the government that the agricultural sector is listening," Kotzé says. Please click SAPPO media statement to peruse.
Finding Common Ground by Wandile Sihlobo now available

Finding Common Ground is a selection of key articles from Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo's regular
Business Day column, framed with insightful commentary and context. The book covers the broad themes that have marked current discussions and outlines the challenges and opportunities faced by South Africa's agricultural sector. Please click here for more information from the publishers PanMacMillan. During lockdown the book is available on Kindle and as an e-book. 
Get your copy here:

Click here to listen to a Radio 702 interview with Wandile Sihlobo on his book.
BASA appoints new managing director

The Banking Association South Africa (BASA) is pleased to formally announce the appointment of Bongiwe Kunene to the position of Managing Director, from 01 April 2020.
Kunene is currently Standard Bank Personal and Business Banking (PBB) Group Head for the Public Sector. She has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. Between 1994 and 1998 she was part of the National Treasury team that created pioneering fiscal and economic frameworks for the country. She has also served as Head of Department: Gauteng Department of Finance and Economic Affairs; in the South African Presidency; and as World Bank Executive Director representing South Africa, Nigeria and Angola. Kunene holds a Master of Science in Development Economics from the University of London. Read more in the linked BASA media statement.
News from the citrus industry

Read the latest news from the citrus industry, in the weekly newsletter of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa. Please click here  to peruse.
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.
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. 
NSTF Plant Health discussion forum - IYPH 2020
6-7 May 2020 | Future Africa  | University of Pretoria | South St  | Koedoespoort

Transport Forum
Theme: "Answering the climate action challenge at scale"
2 April 2020  | 23 Melle Street (corner De Korte Street) Braamfontein  OR
WWF | 1st floor Bridge House | Boundary Terraces Mariendahl Lane (corner Campground Rd) Newlands
17-19  June 2020 | Cape Town International Convention Centre  | Cape Town

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

Second International Congress of Biological Control (ICBC2) 
26-30 April 2021 |  Davos, Switzerland

Agbiz Congress 2021
Theme: "Building resilient and sustainable agri-food ecosystems".
7-9 April 2021 | Sun City Convention Centre | South Africa

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  • 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.
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