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.
30 April 2020
Lockdown level 4: What will now be allowed?
The new rules and regulations for South Africans under lockdown level 4 from 1 May were gazetted on Wednesday night.   Hardware sales are now permitted, but cigarettes not.
Fast food will be allowed - but delivery only, and with a strict curfew.
From 1 May, South Africans will be allowed to buy winter clothes, and order fast food, but in a U-turn from what was earlier announced by the president, cigarettes will no longer be allowed to be sold. The agricultural sector welcomed the full opening of the sector and support services, including the export of liquor, wool and other agricultural products and allowing auctions to a maximum of 50 persons. South Africa will embark on a staged reopening of the economy, starting with a level 4 on Friday, to help slow down the spread of coronavirus, and ensure that health authorities are not overwhelmed, Dlamini-Zuma said. In the linked article, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff explained the implications of the new regulations. 
Preliminary considerations on the food and agriculture policy response to Covid-19
In an ambitious response to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, governments in OECD countries and beyond have started to adopt extensive policy measures to decelerate the spread of the disease, and limit its negative impact on our societies and economies. As it is estimated that each month of containment will result in a 2 percentage point loss in annual GDP growth for the overall economy, some of these measures significantly disrupt the flow of food products and commodities as well as workers that are essential to ensure supply security in the global food and agriculture system. In this context, Business at OECD urges governments to ensure international agri-food supply and security through a coordinated international effort. Please click here to peruse the OECD's report.
The Covid-19 economists group offers valuable resources
The Covid-19 Economic Ideas website is home to a network of economists who together are supporting efforts to address the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.  The idea was to bring together economists who can help think through this complex and uncertain situation and who are already very familiar with policy-making, so as to work fast.  The group has a programme of work, and aims to do this in a collaborative way. The work involves making sense of the possible economic impacts, the impact this will have on principles of economic policy-making, and concrete recommendations for short, medium and long-term policy decisions.  This website hosts the product of this group's work on Covid-19, and also makes available articles that were found to be most useful.  It is hoped that this site will be a useful resource for the many organisations, experts, policymakers, activists, researchers and other stakeholders who are engaged in finding solutions, in South Africa and also globally. Please click here to peruse.
New level 4 lockdown regulations for employers - including coronavirus screening and free masks for workers

The Department of Labour has published updated directives for employers to protect their workers from the coronavirus, as South Africa prepares to ease the national lockdown to level 4.  Through the move to level 4, it is anticipated that around 1.5 million employees will return to work in the coming weeks, again increasing the risk of transmission of the virus.  According to the new regulations, gazetted on Wednesday 29 April, employers will need to implement a host of new measures to ensure that their workers are protected and limit the risk of the coronavirus spreading. Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff summarises the key requirements in the linked article.
Pandemic adds to food insecurity in Africa, but little threat in SA 

Global food and agricultural supply chains are taking strain from disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the case whether one looks at meat or grain supply chains.
First, the US, Brazil and Canada, which accounted for nearly a third of global meat and edible offal exports in 2019, have closed some of their meat processing plants over the past few days in response to the spread of Covid-19 among employees. In the US and Canada, the major closures are beef and pork processing plants, while in Brazil the closures are of poultry-related plants. Given these countries' significant combined contribution to global meat exports of 28%, if the plant closures spread and they remain closed for a prolonged period there could be a global meat shortage and potential uptick in prices. In the linked article, Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses the international situation and the effect on supply in South African value chains.
South Africa's 2019/20 summer grains and oilseeds harvest to be the second biggest on record

The data released by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) on Thursday show that South Africa's 2019/20 summer grains and oilseeds production could increase by 32% y/y to 17.5 million tonnes. While this is only the third estimate for this season, with six more to follow, if it materialises, this could be the second-largest harvest on record after the 2016/17 crop. The major gains are maize, soybeans and sunflower seed. The 2019/20 maize, soybeans and sunflower seed harvest are forecast at 15.2 million tonnes, 1.3 million tonnes, and  731 210  tonnes; which are up by 35%, 10% and 8%, respectively, from the 2018/19 production season. The increase is mainly supported by an expansion in area planted in the case of maize and expected improvements in yields on the back of favourable weather conditions during a greater part of the season. The harvest season for oilseeds has recently started, while for grains, it will likely gain momentum towards the end of May.  Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo.
Africa's food security under fire

Agriculture is a dominant economic activity across sub-Saharan Africa, except for a few resource-rich economies, such as South Africa, Botswana and Angola. Yet sub-Saharan Africa is the region with high levels of food insecurity and the most acute levels of malnutrition compared to other regions in the world.  The major causes of malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa include adverse climatic conditions which normally lead to a decline in agricultural production and soaring staple food prices, conflict in some countries, lower levels of investment in agriculture, and fragmented agricultural markets. Prof. Mzukisi Qobo, Wandile Sihlobo and Isaah Mhlanga explore this subject in the linked article, written for and first published on Fin 24.
An uptick in SA food price inflation in March 2020

South Africa's food price inflation accelerated to 4.4% y/y in March 2020, from 4.2% y/y in the previous month. This uptick was mainly underpinned by relative price rises of meat; milk, eggs and cheese; and fruit. Meanwhile, other products decelerated and some remained roughly unchanged. While there are still unknowns about the definite impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on agriculture and the food sector, we are still convinced that what will matter the most for the direction of food price inflation this year are developments in the grains, meat markets and fruit. These three food categories account for nearly two-thirds of South Africa's food price inflation basket. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo.
Minister Didiza announces the way forward upon closure of Covid-19 intervention application process
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza is pleased to announce that by the closing date of applications for the Covid-19 intervention, 42 444 application forms were received against the number of 34 612 forms distributed. It must be noted that the difference in the number of forms distributed is the result of additional means of distribution being used, such as social media platforms; downloads from the website; farmers sharing forms among themselves; and forms distributed by farmer organisations and social partners. The minister is pleased to announce that the overall rate of returned forms is 123%. Given the short space of time due to the urgency of this intervention, the minister is satisfied with the response by small-scale and communal farmers. DALRRD media statement.
South Africa and Southern African food value chains as the crisis unfolds 
Fresh produce production and supply thereof continues at this stage with harvesting, packing, logistics, and selling at fresh produce markets continuing uninterrupted so far.
An interesting trend strengthening since we first noted it is the broadening of the value chain from fresh produce markets to the consumer, especially in the informal economy. Market agents register new buyers on a daily basis, implying hawkers, street vendors, bakkie traders, and shops are going directly to fresh produce markets to buy directly instead of buying versus third parties.  As the events around Covid-19 unfold, Valuechainsolutions provides an update on the situation with the specific focus on food value chains, as well as some pointers on events north of South Africa. Please click here to peruse.
GMB starts importing GMO maize for consumption in Zimbabwe 
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has started importing genetically modified maize for consumption in the country.  Addressing delegates at a Matabeleland North provincial taskforce meeting in Bulawayo yesterday, GMB regional manager Podiso Mafa said GMO positive maize imports started in November 2019.  A leading researcher in GMO technology and the vice chancellor of Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University, Prof. Christopher Chetsanga, in an interview, said there was nothing wrong with genetically modified foods despite public fears that they were not healthy. Please click here to peruse an article first published on Bulawayo 24 News.
Ukraine rivers drop to lowest level in 100 years, posing threat to agriculture
This year the water level in many rivers across Ukraine, as well as in the Dnipro, the longest river of Ukraine and the fourth-longest in Europe, hit a record low for the last 100 years, experts said.  A dry winter and fall has sparked concerns about low levels of water in the country's waterways, rivers, and low levels of moisture in Ukrainian soil.  The lack of water threatens both the country's ecosystems and its vital agrarian sector, especially in southern regions like Kherson Oblast, where the issue on irrigation is already complicated. Read more in the linked article, first published in Kyiv Post.
Fruit4Relief: Fruit industry giving back 

True to the nature of the fruit industry, which is in essence a peoples' business, a number of farmers, packers and fruit exporters have supported local organisations and communities with food donations and fresh fruit since the Covid-19 crisis emerged. The South African fruit industry is working relentlessly to continue to produce fruit in an effort to contribute, not only to the economy, but also to the fight against Covid-19.  The fruit communities linked to production, harvesting and supply of fresh produce, are key to ensure the uninterrupted supply of fresh fruit.  Across the entire fruit industry, role players have stepped up to the call to support different initiatives including old age homes, homeless centres, orphanages, school feeding schemes, chronically ill patients as well as needy families in their immediate communities. Amidst daily operational challenges, the industry is giving back without hesitation. The various grower associations and its members are committed to overcome the challenges presented by Covid-19 and will continue to execute ongoing collaborative initiatives to combat hunger and to ensure the well-being of vulnerable communities.
CropLife appoints lead for plant biotechnology

CropLife International, the voice and leading advocate of the plant science industry, has announced that it is transitioning its biotechnology programmes in Southern Africa to CropLife South Africa. Following trends from elsewhere in the world, the consolidation will bring plant biotechnology and crop protection activities under one organisation, CropLife South Africa, with a goal of capitalising on synergies between the two technologies in delivering integrated pest management solutions. The transition includes the appointment of a lead for plant biotechnology at CropLife South Africa. Heading up this exciting position is newly appointed Chantel Arendse, who will take up the role in June. Read more in the linked CropLife media statement.
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. 
Valuable information shared in virtual discussion on the agri value chain

Senwes, in collaboration with the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), hosted a virtual discussion series on the agricultural value chain.   The virtual discussion series platform went live on 24 April 2020 @ 16:00.  This platform will continue to be open to anyone who would like to join the virtual discussions in the new revolutionary series and follow these informative sessions with the different role players in the agriculture value chain. Please visit the link to register and to access the platform for more information on the topics and panelists. The first three sessions are ready for you to view. Session 4 will be made available shortly. Registered participants will be alerted by SMS when session 4 is available. 
Port Operations in 2020
7 May 2020 | Zoom meeting
Participation is for free, but booking is essential
For those who prefer not using Zoom, the meeting will also be live streamed to YouTube (No need to register for this)

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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