10 September 2021
AASR 2021 - A decade of action: building sustainable and resilient African food systems
This past week, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) released its flagship annual publication, Africa Agriculture Status Report, titled: A Decade of Action: Building Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems in Africa. The report builds on the United Nations’ theme of the upcoming Food Systems Summit, which has put the food systems transformation onto the main stage of international discourse in 2021. Concepts of resilience, sustainability, and “green growth” have also gained tremendous traction internationally. As such, a consensus is emerging across the globe that our livelihoods and jobs – and the health of the planet -- are fundamentally dependent on developing resilient and sustainable economies.
However, Africa has remained food insecure, accounting for 256 million out of the world’s 795 million people suffering from hunger. Moreover, 239 million of the 256 million food insecure people are in sub-Saharan Africa, with 17 million people being in North Africa. Inevitably, the African continent is off-track from reaching its targets across all continental policy frameworks – and the SDGs. Against this background, there has been a broad consensus that Africa’s food systems, as currently constructed – are flawed due to the high levels of food and nutrition insecurity, high levels of food losses and waste, and prevailing human and environmental health concerns arising from unsustainable production systems.
The threat of multiple crises such as persistent droughts, famine, locusts, fall army worm (FAW), civil conflicts and more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic, significantly derail the continent’s potential in overcoming the challenges faced in meeting targets. More importantly, however, this calls for the continent to create more resilient food systems that can withstand these multiple shocks.
Agbiz has been part of this continental effort and contributed in authoring the report. It can be downloaded here.
Inflation-targeting at 21 - lessons for the future
Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago says South Africa should adopt an inflation ‘point target’ of around 3% or 4% with a margin of error on either side, instead of the 3% to 6% target range used currently. In a public lecture at Stellenbosch University on Tuesday (7 September), Kganyago said that the last time South Africa had inflation rates this low for this long was in the 1960s. “And that wasn’t because the economy was in crisis; the economy was actually booming. The low interest rates in the 1960s were possible because of low inflation. It follows that, if we want to keep interest rates low, the most important thing we can do is to lower the inflation target.” Kganyago said a more appropriate target would be a point target of around 3% or 4%, putting South Africa in the same territory as its international peers. Please click here to peruse.
Business confidence down but not out
After surging by 15 points to 50 in the second quarter, the RMB/BER Business Confidence index (BCI) retreated to 43 in the third quarter. The index is now back in net negative terrain, where the number of respondents unsatisfied with prevailing business conditions outnumber those that are satisfied. Given the variety of negative factors that affected sentiment in the quarter, this outcome is unsurprising. But things could easily have turned out even worse.The third-quarter survey was conducted between 11 and 30 August. It covered about 1300 businesspeople spread across the building, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, and motor trade sectors. Although it is not unusual for the RMB/BER BCI to decline after a strong surge, several confidence-sapping developments did aggravate the third-quarter decline. Please click here for the full media statement issued by the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).
AFMA Person of the Year 2021 awarded to Agbiz CEO
Congratulations to Dr John Purchase, Agbiz CEO, on being announced as AFMA Person of the Year at the 74th AGM of the Animal Feed Manufacturers Association (AFMA).
Chemuniqué sponsors this prestigious annual award, which has been presented since 1993 to a person who has made an exceptional contribution towards the industry during the year.
18th Constitutional Amendment Bill endorsed by Ad Hoc Committee
On Friday 3 September, the second version of the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill was endorsed by the Ad Hoc Committee. This comes a mere three weeks after receiving public comments and it does not appear as if the Bill was amended in any way based on the comments received. It must be stressed that this step merely involves the Ad Hoc Committee where a simple majority is required to endorse a proposal to the National Assembly. For the Bill to be passed into law, a two-third majority is required in the National Assembly as well as six out of nine provinces in the NCOP. It remains to be seen whether the Bill will be supported in these forums. Kindly access the media statement from the Ad Hoc Committee here for your information. Agbiz will continue to monitor the situation and make inputs where possible.
MPs divided on completion of land expropriation amendment
 The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said the adoption of land expropriation without compensation legislation couldn't be delayed to December because of the local government elections. The elections must be held by early November, meaning Parliament has to delay the passing of key legislation aimed at speeding up and reform. The National Assembly programming committee on Monday discussed the implications of the polls on Parliament’s work. On Friday, the ad hoc committee tasked with amending legislation that will see land expropriation without compensation embedded in the Constitution adopted its report. But it might be a while before the National Assembly passes it into law. Please click here to read the full article, first published on msn.com.
South African farmers grasp the logic of logistics
Logistics has always been the backbone of South Africa’s export-orientated agricultural sector, though it does not always get the level of attention it has received recently due to various disruptions. South Africa’s agricultural exports, valued at $10.2bn in 2020, the second-largest value on record, were supported by functional logistical systems from the farm gate up to the shipping ports. However, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, disruptions to global shipping lines, growing shipping container shortages and costs, theft of Transnet infrastructure and cyberattacks have put the challenges of this vital sector on the front burner. For SA’s agricultural sector, especially export-focused subsectors such as the fruit, wine and grain industries, smooth logistical operations are crucial. Through these challenges South Africa’s agricultural logistics role players pushed hard to maintain unhindered export activity in the first half of 2021. Hence, SA’s agricultural exports amounted to $6.1bn, a 30% annual increase. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
How the South African government can boost its credibility in the agricultural sector
Governments can build credibility over time through consistent commitment to implementing policies efficiently and effectively. South Africa hasn’t done well on this score. As a result of the poor record of policy implementation, investors and the general public have become sceptical of government policy pronouncements. Recent examples of this credibility gap include its handling of two major policy initiatives. The first is the National Development Plan launched in 2012. The second is the National Treasury’s 2019 economic policy paper titled “Economic transformation, inclusive growth, and competitiveness: Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa”. Neither was ever fully implemented. Once unveiled, it was up to government departments to pull ideas from them to enhance their strategies. But this wasn’t done. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published on The Conversation.
Optimistic speeches at EC agriculture indabas need to come to fruition
The Eastern Cape’s politicians, specifically, its rural development and agrarian reform MEC, Nonkqubela Pieters, was among those who spoke positively about the province’s agricultural prospects in an EC Agriculture Indaba in August. The barriers to agricultural development in the province have long been discussed. They include the lack of land rights in many communities, poor infrastructure such as silos and roads, lack of irrigation infrastructure, and inefficient local government service delivery for agribusinesses in various towns. Over the past decade, many analysts (myself included) have urged the provincial government to form strong partnerships with various agribusinesses in the province to address the infrastructure constraints and human capacity challenges, while continuously lobbying the national government for better land governance, which would include tradable land leases and title deeds in various parts of the province. In the linked article, written for and first published on HeraldLIVE, Wandile Sihlobo elaborates on this subject.
Tractor sales, rainfall forecasts point to bumper summer crops for South Africa in the 2021/22 season
 There is already compelling evidence that once again South African farmers will be hard at work from the end of September through to December, the window of summer crop planting in the country. Tractor sales have been robust since the start of the year. According to SA Agricultural Machinery Association figures, tractors sales have been 26% ahead of the corresponding period in 2020, with 3,934 units sold in the first seven months of this year. That said, it is worth highlighting that 2020 first-half sales were negatively affected by Covid lockdown restrictions, so the base is somewhat distorted. Still, 2020 was also a good year for South African tractor sales, so surpassing it means we are witnessing good momentum this year. In 2020 tractor sales amounted to 5 738 units, up 9% on 2019, supported by the large summer grain and oilseed harvests of 2019/2020. The 2020/2021 agricultural season was also excellent and coincided with higher commodity prices, boosting farmers’ finances and subsequently supporting tractor sales. Farmers’ improved financial standing gave them the latitude to replace implements. But, the optimism about the 2021/2022 production season also played a part in their purchasing decisions. Wandile Sihlobo shares his views in the linked article.
SA's agriculture economy is in good shape
 The second-quarter GDP data released by Statistics South Africa this week confirmed the reality we have been observing on the ground, i.e. South Africa's agricultural economy is in good shape. After contracting by 1,0% quarter-on-quarter (seasonally adjusted) in the first quarter of this year, the agricultural gross value-added expanded by 6,2% in the second quarter. This improvement is supported by increased production of field crops, horticulture, and relatively better production conditions within the livestock subsector. In the 2020/21 production season, the robust agricultural production was underpinned by favourable rainfall and expansion in area plantings of various field crops. Major grains such as maize and soybeans saw production reaching 16,3 and 1,9 million tonnes, respectively. This is the second-largest harvest yet in maize and a record harvest in soybeans. Bumper harvests of other field crops were also expected in 2020/21. In the linked article, Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data.
Register for the Agbiz Grain Symposium
There is little doubt that 2021 will be remembered as a watershed year for South Africa. Our economic recovery depends on the difference we make in the lives of others through our decision-making, the optimal management of socio-political challenges in the macro-environment, the curbing of unnecessary costs, by embracing new technological advancements and by gaining a clear understanding of the fundamental factors that will determine commodity prices in 2022. Leading our country and sector forward into a promising,
joyful future we need to make a difference in the lives of
others through our decision-making. Key speakers include Prof Johann Kirsten, Dr John Purchase, Prof. Ferdi Meyer, and Arlan Suderman. Join us from 20 to 23 September for our VIRTUAL Symposium. In the linked video, Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer elaborates on the topics that will be discussed. Please click here for more information on the programme and to register.
Experience counts when handling a record harvest
Grain harvests are seasonal and can show large variations. Experienced silo staff is aware of this because it is not so easy to find resources to roll out when a record crop shows up. A successful team knows when to pick up the pace to handle and store more grain within the same timeframe. Agile silo staff has skills such as foresight, a willingness to always learn, adaptability and resilience. A team with members who have these characteristics can quickly master a record harvest with existing resources. Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer and Awie Kriel of Kaap Agri explore this subject in the linked article, first published in Grain SA's magazine, SA Grain.
Perspectives on agriculture's GDP performance in 2021 Q1
South Africa’s seasonally adjusted GDP grew by 1.2% in the second quarter of 2021, with the transport, storage and communications industry the largest contributor, increasing by 6.9% and contributing 0.5% to overall growth. Conventionally, StatsSA evaluates sectors in the economy according to a seasonally adjusted change. This is shown for agriculture by the blue bars in Figure 1. While comparable with the rest of the economy, it does not reflect conditions in agriculture well because of the seasonality of pro duction and different timing of delivery of various commodities. At first glance it looks as though agriculture, forestry and fisheries only grew by 6.2% since the previous quarter, but a relative comparison between Quarter 2 of this year and that of 2020 removes the need for seasonal adjustments and provides an alternative, simpler picture of agricultural performance in the past quarter. Using this method, the agricultural sector’s performance was exceptional in the second quarter of 2021, expanding by 15.9% in real terms compared to the second quarter in 2020. Read more in the linked GDP brief, issued by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP).
ENSO: current status and predictions
The latest El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) diagnostic discussion issued by Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society states that a transition from ENSO-neutral to La Niña is favoured in the next couple of months, with a 70-80% chance of La Niña during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2021-22. In the last month, ENSO-neutral continued with near-to-below average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) persisting in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. In the last week, all of the Niño index values ranged from -0.2ºC to -0.3ºC. Negative subsurface temperature anomalies (averaged from 180-100ºW) remained steady in August, reflecting below-average temperatures that extended from the surface to ~250m depth in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Low-level wind anomalies were easterly over the western Pacific Ocean, while upper-level wind anomalies were westerly over the western and east-central Pacific. Tropical convection was suppressed near and west of the Date Line and enhanced over Indonesia. Given these conditions, the ocean-atmosphere system reflected ENSO-neutral, but is edging toward La Niña. Please click here to peruse.
Minister reduces size of disease management area affected by FMD
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms.Thoko Didiza (MP), wishes to announce the reduction of the size of the disease management area affected by foot-and-mouth diseases in KwaZulu-Natal. This decision follows the conclusion of the second round of serological surveillance. It was established that the disease, within the DMA, is still confined to two clusters of diptanks in Mtubatuba and Nongoma. This shows that the restriction on the movement of animals out of, within, through and into the DMA was sufficient to prevent the disease from spreading.
Since the disease did not spread within or outside of the DMA, the size of the KZN DMA can now be decreased. This will release areas that remained free of the disease from movement restrictions, while still maintaining restrictions on those areas where the disease is still present. Please click here for the DALRRD media statement.
Marquis Group grows nuts for World Macadamia Nut Day
In celebration of World Macadamia Nut Day on Saturday 4th September, the Australian and South African Marquis Group has donated macadamia trees for planting at local schools in the world’s biggest macadamia producing regions. The group also ran education sessions regarding sustainability practices in macadamia growing and processing for the students.
Marquis Macadamias Africa donated trees to Bergvlam High School in the key growing region of Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. The significance of the macadamia industry was highlighted to the children, detailing the enormous job creation ability of the industry and the foreign exchange earned for the country. Please click here for the full media statement.
Invitation to India-Africa Agriculture and Food Processing Summit 
Agriculture in India and Africa share similarities like comparable agro-climatic and socio-economic conditions. Now, with improved productivity and better skilled people, India and Africa have emerged as key partners in contributing to global food security. However, Africa’s agricultural transformation needs more investment. There are challenges to enhance the output to higher levels, but with time, training and investment, it is achievable. While it is important to look into the seed quality, soil cultivation techniques, fertilizer and equipment the pre-growth building blocks also need to be parallelly cultivated along with it. This coupled with basic infrastructure development, access to markets and financing would be critical for improving Africa’s agricultural productivity.
With this background the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with key stakeholders is organizing a Digital Exhibition and Conference on Agriculture & Food Processing Industry from 14-15 September 2021 on a virtual platform.
This initiative aims to further deepen the existing relationship between India and Africa in the following areas :
  • trade and investment in agriculture produce and commodities 
  • food processing and value addition
  • farm mechanization and irrigation technology for increasing productivity and achieving climate resilience
  • agricultural research & development to foster innovation,
  • capacity building & training 

Please click here for more information and the programme. To register, kindly contact Sudhir Mannie at commerce.pretoria@mea.gov.in.
Tribute to Etraco chairperson Werner Buchner
Agbiz was deeply saddened to learn about the untimely death of Werner Buchner, chairperson of Agbiz member Etraco, following a farm attack last week. Bucher was one of the founding members of the Nanaga Farming Trust, which supplied the local market with dairy products and contributed to schools and social projects in the area. According to reports, three gunmen invaded Buchner’s dairy farm Boslaagte, near Nanaga in the Sara Baartman District on Sunday before 19:00. The assailants apparently shot Buchner in the back, while his son Werner was also shot and his wife Estelle kicked and beaten. Agbiz strongly condemns this senseless attack and once again call on authorities to prioritise rural safety and security. In a media statement, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rual Developoment Thoko Didiza Didiza urged the South African Police Service to leave no stone unturned in the ongoing investigation. “I call upon the police to leave no stone unturned in apprehending perpetrators of this senseless and barbaric attack,” said Didiza. Agbiz and its member organisations extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues and loved ones.
Corteva Agriscience and Plantix introduce free pest, disease and weed identification app
Corteva Agriscience is proud to announce the launch of a new mobile application (app), Corteva™ FarmFundi, which provides a digital pest and disease identification guide for farmers across Africa and the Middle East (AME). Once threats are accurately identified using the app, farmers can consult with Corteva’s expert crop scientists and local agronomists for treatment recommendations via e-mail or the web links provided. “Researchers estimate that invasive species alone cost Africa’s agricultural sector $74.3 billion each year, compounded by an approximate $21.5 billion worth of crop losses inflicted by insects and other pests,” says Linda van der Merwe, Marketing Lead, Corteva Agriscience. “As such, we are excited to bring our first-to-market digital tool to farmers in Africa Middle East. Our collaboration with Plantix allows us to combine the very best of innovative mobile farming technology with the keen insights and vast expertise of our technical teams; helping to mitigate potential impacts to livelihoods and food security." Please click here for the Corteva Agriscience media statement.
The MPO is searching for a new CEO
The Milk Producers’ Organisation of South Africa (MPO) is looking for a new chief executive officer. The MPO Board and Signium Africa are inviting interesting parties to participate. Please click here for more information.   
Get the latest news from FPEF
Keeping it Fresh, the newsletter of the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum (FPEF), contains all the recent relevant news and developments. Please click here for the latest edition.
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.
Sustainability Summit 2021
21-23 September 2021 | Virtual

2021 AFMA Symposium
18-19 October 2021
Enquiries: events@afma.co.za 

Intra-African Trade Fair 2021
15-21 November 2021 | Durban

Agbiz Congress 2022
22-24 June 2022 | Sun City
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.
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