9 October 2020
Stability in rural areas necessary for economies to thrive
"Agbiz is alarmed at the high incidence of crime in South Africa, and in particular crime in the rural communities where food producers and many of our agribusinesses are operating," says Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase. "We strongly reject and condemn all forms of violence and criminality in all of our communities."
"Crime in the rural areas leaves the whole farming community vulnerable, and it not only affects farmers, but also farmworkers and their families." Dr Purchase noted that the criminal activity in rural communities is not only destroying lives, but also progressively destroying rural economies whose well-being is crucial to produce food for the country and attract investment into the sector. "We are at a time where the country is looking at agriculture as one of the sectors to contribute to economic growth and job creation, which would not be possible without stability in the rural areas." Please click here for the full Agbiz media statement.
Subdivision of agricultural properties could assist land reform programme      
In the linked article, written for and published in Business Day, Prof Johann Kirsten and Prof Nick Vink, discusses how passing the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill could help disenfranchised communities access property. "We have for many years argued that Act 70 of 1970 is an impediment to the process of rapid land reform as the process of subdivision is cumbersome, bureaucratic and expensive, even if the minister agrees that all applications for subdivision for the purposes of land reform will be granted." Please click here to read the complete article.
TIPS releases the National Employment Vulnerability Assessment: Analysis of potential climate-related impacts on vulnerable groups of employees

To better understand the impacts of climate change and the just transition to a greener economy on employment, Nedlac commissioned a study to gauge the impacts on selected sectors of the economy. A consultant known as Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies, or TIPS for short, was commissioned to investigate the vulnerability of workers employed in the coal, metals, petroleum-based transport, tourism and agricultural value chains. As far as agriculture was concerned, the focus was largely focused on employees in the primary sector and self-employed, smallholder farmers opposed to workers in other areas of the value chain. In the linked article, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff discusses the findings of the study. Please click National Employment Vulnerability Assessment to access the full report.
Government plan to release land for farmers a step in the right direction

The growth of South Africa's agricultural fortunes and job creation will, in part, depend on the expansion of agricultural activities in the underutilised former homelands regions and farms that government acquired through the land reform process. Hence, this past week's announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, that government would be availing 700 000 hectares of agricultural land is broadly positive. The government promises efficiency in availing the land to potential beneficiaries. The selection process, which will be through three broad structures - district, provincial and national -- could take approximately two months. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published on Fin24.
Thoughts on South Africa's food price inflation 

The rising grain prices present upside risks also to South Africa's food price inflation. This is the case although the pass-through of the recent price increases remains fairly muted, with "bread and cereals" category of the food price inflation basket rising by only 2.8% y/y in August 2020, marginally up from the previous month. Earlier in the year, we estimated that South Africa's food price inflation in 2020 could average at 4% y/y (compared with 3.1% y/y in 2019). At that time, we anticipated a notable decline in domestic grains prices on the back of a large harvest, which as we all have come to see didn't materialize. Maize prices are currently up by over 20% y/y, on the back of rising global demand, primarily from China; the weaker domestic currency; and generally higher global maize prices, amongst other factors. Meanwhile, other food products categories in the food price inflation basket are roughly in line with our expectations. As a result of this, South Africa's headline food price inflation has averaged about 4.4% in the first eight months of 2020. Wandile Sihlobo shares his views in the linked blogpost.
Robust tractor sales suggest optimism about the 2020/21 summer crop season

South Africa's tractor sales maintained the positive path in September 2020, which has been underway since June, increasing by 23% y/y with 529 units sold. This was boosted, to a certain extent, by improved farmers' financial position following a large summer grains harvest in 2019/20 production season and combined with relatively higher commodity prices. The available data for the first nine months of the year already show that the tractors' sales performance will be much better than we anticipated at the start of the year and also better than the 2019 performance. Already, in the first nine months of 2019, South Africa's tractor sales amounted to 3 924 units, up by 0.1% y/y. Importantly, the robust tractors sales also provide clues about the 2020/21 summer crop production season, which started this month. An increase in sales suggests that farmers are optimistic about the recently started 2020/21 summer crop production season. The aforementioned higher commodity prices and expectations of favourable weather conditions for the summer season are some of the key factors that support this positive sentiment. Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked blogpost.
A potentially devastating fungal disease in Zambia's wheat fields 

Zambia's grain production has increased notably in the recent past, specifically maize, soybeans, and wheat. This has been boosted by both the expansion in area planted and improvement in yields. Zambia went from being a net importer of maize to an exporter in just two decades, from 2000 to 2020, while at the same time growing the soybean exports. For wheat, however, the increase in production over the past two decades has not yet enabled the country to be self-sufficient. This is something that is not unique to Zambia, regional wheat producers such as South Africa still imports about 51% of its annual wheat consumption, a volume of around 1.6 million tonnes. Zambia's wheat imports are much smaller in volume, in part, because of differences in population size compared to South Africa. Zambia imports about 60 000 tonnes of wheat a year, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture. Read more in Wandile Sihlobo's linked blogpost.
SA wheat imports to fall by 14% y/y in 2020/21, thanks to improved local harvest  

South Africa's 2019/20 winter crops marketing year ended this past week. The key data point most analysts observe are wheat imports, as the country imports about 51% of its annual wheat consumption. We initially estimated the 2019/20 wheat imports to 1.80 million tonnes, which was up by 32% y/y on the back of a poor domestic harvest that year. But the data released by the South African Grain Information Services on 25 September 2020 showed that imports were mildly higher than our estimate, at 1.86 million tonnes. Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Germany were the leading suppliers of wheat to South Africa in 2019/20 marketing year. In the 2020/21 marketing year, wheat imports will likely show a decline of 14% y/y to 1.64 million tonnes. Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked blogpost.
How to balance equal work for equal pay with sound remuneration principles

Equal work for equal pay has been one of the most difficult concepts to understand in the labour law and human resources management space. In South African law, the principle has been included in the Employment Equity Amendment Act 47 of 2013 in section 6(4). This means that Section 6(4) expressly refers to equal pay and prohibits differentiation in terms and conditions of employment. This would include things like employment policies and practices, among employees who work for the same employer and who fall within the category of work that is substantially the same, or work of equal value. This can be daunting for employers, but the National Standard of Reward and Recognition can be utilised to achieve equal remuneration for work of equal value. Jahni de Villiers of Labour Amplified discusses this subject in the linked article.
Higher risk, cost when storing malting barley

South African producers produce malting barley which largely meet the the needs of local beer brewers. It is an integral part of the farming activities in the Southern and Western Cape and is an important diversification for producers in these production areas. Due to the strict quality requirements for malting barley, the production and storage thereof is not as simple as that of other crops such such as for wheat and maize, and it is also more expensive. Agbiz general manager Wessel Lemmer and Johan Lusse, manager of grain and agri services at Overberg Agri discuss this subject in the linked article, first published in the October edition of SA Grain/Graan. Please click here to peruse.
TIPS Tracker: the economy and the pandemic 

According to the TIPS Tracker for the period 21 September to 4 October 2020, the available indicators suggest that economic activity remains 5% to 10% below March levels. Emerging binding constraints include depressed demand for high-risk services, lower household incomes, slow global demand and the electricity shortage. As in other recovering economies, goods production has come back more swiftly than services, which are both riskier and more labour intensive. Job losses have been heaviest for less-skilled and more informal workers, in part because they cannot easily work from home and in part because personal services and non-essential retail cannot recover fully as long as Covid-19 remains a threat. The TIPS Tracker on the economy and the pandemic highlights important trends in the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, and how they affect the economy. It analyses publicly available data, research and media reports to identify current developments, and reflect on the prognosis for the contagion, the economy, and policy responses. Please click here for the latest report.
SACTA reports on company's activities 

The South African Cultivar and Technology Agency (SACTA), was established as a non-profit company in 2016. The purpose of the company is to exclusively administer statutory levies for breeding and technology as imposed on certain self-pollinating crops. Please click here for an electronic copy of SACTA's Annual Report for 2020, which provides detailed background and information regarding the company's activities, as well as its financial statements for the last four years. Please click here to peruse.
Wheat blast has made the intercontinental jump to Africa 

Wheat blast, a fast-acting and devastating fungal disease, has been reported for the first time on the African continent. In an article published in the scientific journal PLoS One, a team of scientists confirmed that symptoms of wheat blast first appeared in Zambia during the 2018 rainy season, in experimental plots and small-scale farms in the Mpika district, Muchinga province. Researchers from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the US Department of Agriculture - Foreign Disease Weed Science Research Unit (USDA-ARS) and the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) participated in this study. Please click here to read more.
US farmers like the way the ag economy is going, survey says 

US farmers continue to be optimistic about their sector's economy, according to the September Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. With a rating of 156, the barometer hit its highest reading since the pandemic began last winter and 12 points higher than one month earlier. In September, producers were more optimistic about both current conditions and the future for agriculture than they were in August, according to the Purdue University-CME Group press release Tuesday. Read more in the linked article first published in Successful Farming.
 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.
The latest 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

For more information, please visit the congress web page. 
AFMA Technical Writing Skills Workshop
12 October 2020
Virtual workshop

PMA Fresh Summit 2020
13-15 October 2020 Virtual event
Fresh Summit has always been the family reunion for the produce and floral industries where buyers and sellers come together to do business, and this year is no different. You'll get all the connections, content, and community you expect - and more!

 2020 AgriAllAfrica Agribusiness Conference - POSTPONED TO 2021
Theme: "Imagined responses to Covid-19: Progress with the development of solutions"
6 May 2021 | CSIR | Pretoria 
Enquiries: Marianna.duplessis@gmail.com | +27 063 076 9135

MPO Virtual Annual National Congress
4 November 2020 
Contact Julie McLachlan: julie@mpo.co.za or 083 740 2720
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
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