6 December 2019
Agribusiness confidence remains subdued

The Agbiz/IDC Agribusiness Confidence Index (ACI) fell slightly from 46 points in the third quarter to 44 in the last quarter of 2019. A level below the neutral 50-point mark implies that agribusinesses are still downbeat about business conditions in South Africa. This has been the case over the past six quarters, which is the longest period the index has trended below 50 points since 2010. This has been underpinned by both the unfavourable agricultural policy environment and also weather conditions. Unfortunately, both could persist going into 2020 and possibly result in further underperformance of South Africa's agricultural economy. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked Agbiz media statement .
Department keeps tabs on FMD outbreaks

Progress has been reported consistently over the past four weeks since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Molemole. To date, 11 commercial properties have been found to be infected and confirmed positive: seven in Capricorn, two in Vhembe and two in Mopani district municipalities. There are an estimated 14 000 cattle on the infected properties, which include five feedlots and six commercial breeding farms. All affected properties have been linked directly or indirectly to cattle sold at auctions. Further follow-up investigations and sampling are still being conducted to determine the extent of the outbreak. Read more on latest developments in the linked press release.
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development imposed official measures to curb the spread of FMD. The measures, published under section 9 (1) of the Animal Diseases Act, came into effect on the 4 December 2019. The gazette outlining the measures is available  here.
Amendments to tax laws businesses should take note of
The Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill, 2019, the Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill, 2019 and the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, 2019 were all tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Finance on 23 October 2019, when he presented his medium-term budget policy statement. The Bills have been passed by the National Assembly. Although the vast majority of the amendments are of a highly technical nature, many of which are more of interest to tax professionals, Werksmans Attorneys discusses those amendments which are likely to be of interest in the general business environment in the linked article.
Southern Africa could face another season of poor agricultural output
There are preliminary indications that Southern Africa could face yet another year of poor agricultural output. A recent report from the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) indicates a high probability of below-normal rainfall in Southern Africa between December 2019 and February 2020. There is, therefore, the potential for a poor output in agriculture across the region, and forward planning is key to mitigate the effects of food insecurity, states Wandile Sihlobo in the linked article.
South Africa's agricultural economy in recession; any recovery in sight?
The third quarter 2019 GDP data released by Statistics South Africa this week illuminated what many in South Africa's farming towns and villages have been experiencing throughout the year, which is that the farming economy is in recession. Indeed, production in South Africa's agricultural sector contracted by 3,6% quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted in Q3, which marks the third consecutive quarterly contraction.  Agricultural commodities that have been most challenged in the form of lower output include maize, soybeans and sunflower seeds. Discouragingly, harvests for these commodities declined by double-digit levels in the 2018/19 production year. In addition, the livestock sector didn't fare well either, as biosecurity challenges in the cattle, wool and pig industries limited trade for the greater part of this year. These have weighed on farmers' incomes. Wandile Sihlobo shares his insights in the linked article.
South Africa is missing out on fresh fruit export growth; what it needs to do

South Africa's urgent need to create jobs requires that the country take advantage of opportunities in the global economy that it can convert into quick wins. The fruit industry presents such an opportunity. The country's fresh fruit industry is currently the largest exporter of agricultural products, contributing 52% of the value of South Africa's agriculture export basket. It also represents 28% of total employment in agriculture. But there's a great deal more it can do given that demand for fresh fruit is expected to continue growing at an average annual rate of 7.1% over the next two years. This is being driven by the growth of the middle class in China, Africa and other Asian countries. Please click on the linked article, first published on The Conversation, to peruse.
Beware the dangers of over-interpreting better news on trade

This year has been a pretty gloomy one for the world economy, but the final few weeks have brought some better news. The latest survey data suggest that the slowdown in global growth is bottoming out, equity markets have rallied, and, perhaps most significantly, some of the gloom around global trade is starting to lift.  The improvement in the mood over trade has been helped by positive noises from both Beijing and Washington about the prospects of agreeing a so-called "phase one" trade deal. At the time of writing, it's unclear what exactly any such deal would cover. Read more in the linked article, first published on Capital Economics.
Don't let your valuable fresh produce be rejected because of MRL woes

Maximum residue limits (MRLs) are a globally accepted tool in the food safety basket that offers consumers a guarantee that fresh produce is safe for human consumption. The traces of pesticide found on treated products are called residues, and MRLs, which may differ per country, set the highest legally tolerated level of these residues that will not be a concern to human health.
To adhere to these limits might have been a relatively simple exercise for producers as they could merely look at their spray programmes per crop and follow the label instructions, withholding periods and pre-harvest intervals and voila, their produce is ready for the market. In reality however, there are a variety of retailers and certification agencies that set their own, secondary MRL requirements that producers need to adhere to if they would like to export their produce accordingly. Croplife media release
Why hydroponic farming solutions are important to our communities

Hydroponic farming is a sustainable, productive alternative to conventional farming which makes use of only 10% of the water used in conventional farming, and is geared towards securing food for an ever-growing future generation. In South Africa the scarce fresh water is decreasing in quality because of an increase in pollution and the destruction of river catchments, caused by urbanisation, deforestation, damming of rivers, destruction of wetlands, industry, mining, agriculture, energy use and accidental water pollution.  While traditional farming methods fall prey to environmental factors, as well as external factors such as high equipment costs, pesticides and a lack of fertile soil, hydroponic farming is an eco-friendly, controlled method to cultivating crops. These farms can be set up virtually anywhere, urban and rural, for sustained job creation and food supply around the country. Please click on the linked article to peruse.
School leads the way with aquaponics education 

The first thing you notice when you enter the premises of Laerskool Kempton Park (LKP) - a full service primary school located in one of Johannesburg's eastern suburbs - are the well-manicured gardens and fragrant roses. The second thing is gardener and aquaponics system caretaker, Phillemon Mothoa's brilliant smile as he proudly shows off the impeccably maintained fish tanks, green house, sensory garden and traditional vegetable garden. Air Products South Africa. the funder of this INMED South Africa Adaptive Agriculture project at LKP, has described the school as the "jewel" among their corporate social investment (CSI) programmes. Please click on the linked article to peruse.
Get the latest news from SAPPO

For the latest news from the South African Pork Producers' Organisation, please click SAPPO Weekly Update to peruse.
The latest news from the PMA

The Produce Marketing Association's newsletter - PMA Africa Fresh Talk - shares the latest global and local news.
Register and book your accommodation to avoid disappointment

It is our pleasure to inform you that the Agbiz Congress 2020 will be held at Sun City in North West from 15 to 17 July 2020.  Held every second year, the Agbiz Congress 2020 is one of the major events on the food, feed, fibre and wine sectors' agenda in South Africa. We anticipate attracting more than 400 delegates to the 2020 congress, which will feature presentations and discussion panels from local and international speakers, as well as a student case competition and various networking opportunities.

Themed "Building resilient and sustainable agri-food ecosystems", the congress will provide the key forum for identifying the critical developments needed over the coming decades to ensure agri-food value chains are managed sustainably for the benefit of current and future generations. New practices, methods and technologies are required to build robust and inclusive value chains, and thus sustainable agri-food networks and food security.

Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity to engage in these critical discussions, and showcase and promote your business on the agribusiness stage. We are looking forward to seeing you at the Agbiz Congress 2020 from 15 to 17 July 2020 at Sun City!

Please click here for more information and to register.
Nedbank Vinpro Information Day
Theme: "Touch and change"
23 January 2020 | CICS | Cape Town

Africa Agri Tech South Africa
18-20 February 2020  | Time Square | Menlyn Maine | Pretoria
More information

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 Convention Centre | South Africa

Soya Bean for Human Consumption Symposium
17 September 2020  | Pretoria
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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