30 August 2019
South Africa's National Treasury releases an economic policy paper

This week the National Treasury published a paper titled: "Economic transformation, inclusive growth, and competitiveness: Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa". The paper pulled from a number of existing government documents which still talk to the current economic challenges of the day. The paper proposes to change South Africa's trajectory to one of falling unemployment and accelerating economic growth. The National Treasury has called for comments on the paper before 15 September 2019. And thus, Agbiz will formulate comments and contributions to this economic growth paper, which will be circulated to members prior submission to the National Treasury. Our initial impression is that the paper covered areas that we deem essential for improving agricultural economic fortunes and job creation. We welcome the paper and view it as a  right step towards lifting South Africa's economic fortunes. Most importantly, the paper emphasises innovative joint ventures that can boost agricultural production and promote agrarian transformation, which is an approach that Agbiz prefers. Please click here to peruse Agbiz's comments.
Taming the currency hype

Escalating trade tensions are taking a toll on the global economy and are partly responsible for the recent downward revisions to our growth forecasts for 2019-20.  Facing sluggish growth and below-target inflation, many advanced and emerging market economies have appropriately eased monetary policy, yet this has prompted concerns over so-called beggar-thy-neighbor policies and fears of a currency war. In this blog post, the IMF discusses the implications of recent policy actions and proposals and offer alternative ways to address concerns over trade imbalances that are much more supportive of global growth. Please click IMF blogpost to peruse.
Should the SA government incentivise farmers to control the spread of African swine fever

Since April 2019 there have been 14 reported outbreaks of African swine fever in South Africa. All are in areas of the North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Free State. These outbreaks were mainly among smallholder farmers. A few cases in wild boars have also been reported. Local authorities responded by quarantining and controlling the movement of pigs in affected areas. But the industry remains concerned that farmers may give in to the temptation to rush the rest of the herd to the market when they realise that some of their pigs are dying because of African swine fever. This would present a risk of further spread of the disease (which spreads by contact). This leads us to the point of incentives for areas that have been affected by the disease. If there was ever a time when incentives could help reduce the spread of animal disease, it is probably now in South Africa, writes Agbiz chief economist  Wandile Sihlobo in the linked article.  
Zambia intervenes in the maize market

On 25 August 2019, we learned that the Zambian government has placed a price cap of $199 per tonne on maize (approximately R3 023) and has justified its actions by noting its concerns over rising maize prices, which could disadvantage many poor Zambian households.  The maize prices have increased notably over the past couple of months due to a 16% year-on-year decline in Zambia's 2019 maize production to about 2 million tonnes. While the market has reacted to this decline in harvest, Zambia should have enough maize to meet local demand this year, thanks to large carry-over stocks of almost 500 000 tonnes from the 2018/19 marketing year which has provided a buffer for the 2019/20 marketing year. Agbiz chief economist, Wandile Sihlobo, explores this subject more here.
Feathers fly in poultry tariff standoff

The SA Poultry Association has lobbied the International Trade Commission of South Africa to increase import tariffs on chicken from Brazil to a staggering 82%. Obviously, offshore associations are opposed to the plan, but the sentiment is also shared by local importers and exporters.  The Department of Trade and Industry has said it will announce a decision on the chicken tariff issue by the end of August, but it is not one it is taking lightly. Minister Ebrahim Patel told reporters ahead of his budget vote in Parliament in July that striking the right balance between preserving the local industry while keeping poultry affordable would remain a challenge. Ruan Jooste reported on the latest development in the linked article published on Daily Maverick.
Kenya corn output seen 25% below five-year average on drought

Kenya estimates its main-season corn harvest from medium-potential growing areas will drop by about 25% below the country's five-year average.  Production in the western and Rift Valley regions is projected at 2.3 million tons after the so-called long rains that fall between March and May, according to the East African nation's drought-management agency. The linked article,  written for and published on Bloomberg, explores this topic.
GM/biotech crop status in South Africa

South Africa's biotech crop adoption went up a further 3% from 93% in 2017 to 96% in 2018, sustaining its ranking among the top 10 biotech crop countries in the world over the last two decades. Mariana Purnell, general manager of Agbiz Grain, says that it is encouraging that producers realise the benefits of genetic modification. By reducing crop losses due to the negative impact of insects and weeds it increases the chance of a crop to reach its full potential. Most South African farmers have readily accepted biotech crops with 87% adoption of biotech maize, 95% biotech soybean and 100% of biotech cotton.  These figures were recently confirmed by Dr Margaret Karembu, d irector of ISAAA AfriCenter who presented the global biotech figures ( Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2018) at the  Hans Lombard Memorial Information Session on the GM/biotech crop status in South Africa. This event is an annual press conference organised by the Agricultural Biotech Industry Forum. According to Dr Karembu, the ISAAA Brief 54 , compiled by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), shows that South Africa completed 21 years of successful commercialisation of biotech crops with a total of 2.74 million hectares planted on three principal biotech crops namely - cotton, maize, and soybeans. Read the press release here.
Convergence between integrated pest management and biotechnology

Rodney Bell, CEO of CropLife SA
S outh Africa's biotech crop adoption increased by a further 3% in just one year between 2017 and 2018. The GM/biotech crop status in South Africa compares well with international trends according to Mariana Purnell, general manager of Agbiz Grain.  Industry continues to invest in the development of new technologies in a range of crops and there is continued convergence between traditional plant protection products and biotechnology in all its forms.  This was confirmed by the CEO of CropLife SA, Rodney Bell, at the 2nd annual Hans Lombard Memorial Information Session on the GM/biotech crop status in South Africa , when he informed the conference on the new CropLife SA structure and how the focus of the organisation now complements integrated pest management and biotech crop adoption.  Pest management does not increase the potential of a crop to produce a high yield, it only protects the crop against yield losses. Biotechnology is another tool, along with traditional plant protection products, available to CropLife members in their offering to help growers realise the yield potential of their crops. Traditional plant protection products and biotechnology are therefore not competing with each other, but rather are complementary to each other in todays' integrated crop production efforts aimed at providing food security globally.
Highlights from PMA Fresh Connections 2019: Southern Africa

On 30 and 31 July 2019, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) hosted over 500 delegates representing the entire fresh produce supply chain in Cape Town at the 9th Fresh Connections: Southern Africa Conference and Trade Show.
More than 20 expert speakers from four continents shared their knowledge about the latest market trends and developments in the fresh produce industry. In addition, the trade show provided delegates opportunity to connect with peers, professionals and leaders in the industry. Press release
Register now for the Agbiz Agribusiness Trade and Investment Workshop

In light of the trade realities, Agbiz is convening an Agribusiness Trade and Investment Workshop for representatives from the food and agribusiness industry on 26 and 27 September in Pretoria.
The aim of the workshop is threefold:
  • To inform on the state of trade in the world and particularly in Africa, how regional agreements interlink and the institutions necessary to ensure the effective implementation;
  • How African integration impacts on South Africa's trade with foreign markets;
  • Highlight possible risks and opportunities that arise from this complexities.
For more information and to register, please click here.
PSA Seed Growers' Forum & PSA Congress
17 & 18 September 2019 | Cape Sun Hotel  | Cape Town

Inaugural Agribusiness and Eco-tourism Forum, Angola-South Africa
26 & 27  September 2019 | CTICC | Cape Town

VKB Information Days
Theme: "The future of agriculture in SA"
3 October 2019  | Siesta Guesthouse  | Frankfort
4 October 2019 | Protea Hotel Ranch Resort | Polokwane

Vehicle Telematics and Intelligent Mobility Conference
17-18 October 2019 | Emperors Palace Convention Centre | Kempton Park

2019 AFMA Symposium
29 October 2019  | CSIR International Convention Centre | Pretoria

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

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 | South Africa

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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