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.
8 May 2020
The obligations on businesses operating during Covid-19 alert level 4
Regulation 16(6)(b) of the Regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act issued on 29 April 2020  places four obligations on each business, industry and entity in both the public and private sector which  are permitted to operate during alert level 4: These include:
  • Covid-19 compliance officer
  • Phased-in return from other provinces/metropolitan areas/districts
  • Measures
  • Workplace plan
Please click B4SA business operating obligations for more information, particularly on the measures that must be taken, and the workplace plan.
Covid-19 highlights importance of digital technologies
The enforcement of social distancing, lockdowns and other measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has led consumers to ramp up online shopping, social media use, internet telephony and teleconferencing, and streaming of videos and films. This has resulted in spikes in business-to-consumers (B2C) sales and an increase in business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce. The increase in B2C sales is particularly evident in online sales of medical supplies, household essentials and food products. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital technologies in general, but also several vulnerabilities across the world. The resulting experiences and lessons are relevant to various discussions in the WTO, including those on electronic commerce, which could benefit from looking at greater international cooperation to facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services, narrow the digital divide, and level the playing field for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Please click on the WTO's e-commerce report to peruse.
Farmer's Weekly special Covid-19 podcasts
In the fourth installment of the  Farmer's Weekly special coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic podcast series, Farmer's Weekly journalist Sabrina Dean speaks to Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz, about some of the interventions by agribusiness leaders prior to and during the lockdown aimed at keeping agricultural supply chains fully operational.  Dr Purchase also talks about the state of food security in South Africa and about the impact of the lockdown on agricultural exports. Click here to the listen to the first part. In the second part  of Sabrina Dean's interview with Dr Purchase, he  discusses how the national lockdown has been impacting agribusinesses, the food system and the agriculture value chain.  This second part of the interview also explores expectations for the coming months, the importance of foreign currency earnings from exports for the economy, and the state of confidence among agribusinesses.
Late renewal allowed for farm feed manufacturers in light of Covid-19

After the publication of the new regulations under the Disaster Management Act for alert level 4, there was some concern as to whether or not feed manufacturers would be able to renew their licences in the unfortunate event that they were due to expire during the previous lockdown period. Whilst the office of the Registrar is due to open again in level 4, it was closed during alert level 5 which created the possibility that farm feed manufacturers whose licences under Act 36 of 1947 may need to reapply if they miss the deadline to renew applications, thereby resulting in a much more onerous process. Although not formally gazetted as a directive, a letter was received from the Registrar which extended the due date for the renewal cycle from 30 April 2020 until 31 May 2020. Farm feed manufacturers are therefore still permitted to renew their licences under the Act before 31 May 2020. Please click here to peruse.
SAPS guidelines regarding agricultural auctions

There was considerable uncertainty to date regarding agricultural auctions. Agbiz has been made aware of an enforcement guideline from the SAPS which states the following at point 3.1 to Appendix 3: "Note that agricultural related auctions is a permitted activity in terms of Table 1 and therefore does not constitute a gathering". There is no express limit provided to the number of people who may attend, however it is still advised that members limit the number persons who attend as far as is reasonably practicable to prevent the risk of transmissions. Members will also need to adhere to the compulsory safety and hygiene requirements contained in the directive on occupational health and safety, more specifically the provisions related to areas which members of the public have access to. It is also not 100% clear which items are permitted to be auctioned, however as reference is made to permitted activities as per Table 1, then it should cover the auction of live animals and agricultural equipment.
No need for agricultural commodity export restrictions

Export China
While the road ahead is remarkably uncertain because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the export restrictions on agricultural products should not be a policy that countries pursue. There are currently large supplies in the market from the 2019/20 season, and the 2020/21 production season promises to be even better.  The area that will require constant monitoring is logistics. This is specifically the case for the shipping industry which has started to take a knock from the lockdowns resulting from the pandemic. But so far, there haven't been glitches on this and one can expect conditions to improve as several countries, including South Africa, are slowly reopening the economy. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published on Daily Maverick.
Breaking new ground in global agriculture post-Covid

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, governments have intensified efforts to contain the pandemic by limiting the movement of people and temporarily shutting down parts of the economy. Though the full extent of the economic fallout remains unknown, the effects of the pandemic will probably be felt for years.  Within this malaise, the agricultural sector and food manufacturing value chain seem likely to be among those least affected, due to supportive consumer demand. But this doesn't mean there won't be long-lasting structural changes in the sector. Wandile Sihlobo elaborates on this topic in the linked article, written for and first published in Financial Mail.
Judgment date with Judge Dennis Davis, Episode 5: Wandile Sihlobo

In the fifth episode of Daily Maverick's new series of Zoom interviews, Judge Dennis Davis talks to Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa. Watch the video to see the informed discussion about food security, the distribution of food parcels to the needy and many other topics covered in their 30-minute discussion.
Request for duty payment relief
In a letter to stakeholders, SARS stated that it is mindful of the economic hardships that businesses in South
Africa and around the globe are facing during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. "We continue to work with all stakeholders and government to ensure a reduction of the impact of the virus on civil societies and business. SARS therefore informs companies and traders with payments due in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964, including customs deferment payments, that they may apply to make payment in installments." Applications may be submitted to osc@sars.gov.za for
the attention of Vonani Ntlhabyane. Please click here to peruse.
A shipping industry leader explains how to keep supply chains moving amid a pandemic
To keep shipping operations going has not been easy during the pandemic. As we saw in China in January and February, goods stopped moving overseas during confinement. Truck drivers delivering merchandise to ports were forced to stop. Containers that did make it to port sat on loading docks in Shanghai, the world's busiest container port in 2018, and only one of seven of the world's busiest ports - all in China. The US's largest container port, Port of Los Angeles, saw its cargo volumes fall by about 23% in February 2020 compared to the year before. With airlines grounding most of their passenger aircraft fleets, the drastic reduction in air cargo is putting even more pressure on commercial shipping lines. This has caused supply chain havoc. Read more in the linked article on the The World Economic Forum Covid Action Platform.
Covid-19 is exacerbating food shortages in Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's largest rice-importing region, could be heading from a health crisis straight into a food security crisis, the World Bank warns.
More widely, the United Nations says coronavirus disruptions could double the number of people globally without reliable access to nutritious food, to 265 million. "There is no question about it that there is an imminent problem of food insecurity, not only in Nigeria, but also in nations all over the world," Nigeria's Agriculture Minister Muhammed Sabo Nanono told Reuters. Please click here to peruse.
The Great Shutdown: how Covid-19 disrupts supply chains
The economic consequences of the Great Shutdown are likely to trigger a rethink of how supply chains function, putting the emphasis on resilience. Reinforcing regional operations by shortening supply chains and staying closer to the consumer is one of the possible strategies . Yet, the resilience does not need to rely on self-sufficiency, and reinforcing regional integration is not a call for anti-globalism. The solution to the current supply chain disruption and the preparedness for future shocks lies in creating more resilient businesses and more robust links, and not in reducing the size of the system. The linked International Trade Centre blogpost investigates this subject.
SA's fifth break-bulk reefer citrus shipment to Japan and China departed last week
The fifth break-bulk vessel shipment of citrus from South Africa to China and Japan departed last week amid the Covid-19 outbreak. This is the first break-bulk vessel shipment in the 2020 export season adding to the four shipments that were exported in the 2019 season. 2019 was a historical year as the South African citrus industry marked its maiden break-bulk shipment of citrus through a specialised reefer vessel to Japan and China.  The Baltic Patriot Vessel left South Africa with 4 521 tonnes of grapefruit and lemons destined for Japanese and Chinese export markets. The expected date of arrival in Japan is 18 May 2020 while for China it is 26 May 2020. Media statement.
Abundant grain harvest in 2020

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza is pleased to announce that South Africa will have sufficient staple grains supply in 2020/21 marketing year, which starts in May 2020 and ends in April 2021. 
The data released by the department show that this year's summer grains harvest could amount to 17.5 million tonnes, which is a 31% increase from 2019 and the second biggest harvest in the history of this country. This is a testimony to the hard work and resilience of the South African farming community and investments made in the sector. Media statement.
Great season, remarkable wines for South Africa

South Africa's 2020 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 349 883 tonnes, according to the latest estimate of industry body SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems) on 24 April 2020. It is 8.2% larger than the 2019 harvest. The Stellenbosch, Swartland, Cape South Coast, Paarl and Breedekloof regions all harvested more wine grapes than in 2019, with the Olifants River region almost returning to its normal production levels after being one of the regions hardest hit by the recent drought. The Klein Karoo region still struggles with the ongoing drought, which was also experienced in certain parts of the Robertson region, while frost damage resulted in great crop losses in the Northern Cape. Read more in the South African Wine Harvest Report 2020.
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.
Weekly newsletter from CGA

Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern African,  shares the latest news in the citrus industry in his weekly update - From the desk of the CEO. Please click here to peruse. 
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. 
New sessions available 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 panellists. The first four sessions are ready for you to view. Session 5 focusing on financial institutions will be made available shortly. Registered participants will be alerted by SMS when session 5 is available. 
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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