6 Augustus 2021
President Ramaphosa names new ministers in Cabinet reshuffle
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced new ministerial positions and a restructured national executive last night. The president said this was an effort to fill key vacancies in the executive. "These include vacancies created by the tragic passing of Minister Jackson Mthembu and Deputy Minister Bavelile Hlongwa, and the appointment of former Deputy Minister Parks Tau as an MEC in Gauteng," Ramaphosa said.
"A further vacancy has arisen following the request I have received from Minister Zwelini Mkhize to allow him to step down as the Minister of Health in order to bring certainty and stability to this important portfolio. "I have also accepted a long-standing request by Minister Tito Mboweni to be excused from his position as Minister of Finance. Minister Mboweni took up this position following the sudden departure of former Minister Nhlanhla Nene in October 2018," Ramaphosa said. The president also announced changes to the structure of the executive committee. Please click here for the full statement by President Ramaphosa.
How a land reform agency could break South Africa’s land redistribution deadlock
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has conceded that the country’s land reform programme is taking too long to address the challenge of land ownership inequality in South Africa. Bureaucratic delays, patronage and political influence, and opportunism among beneficiaries and landowners are among the challenges that have hindered South Africa’s land reform programme progress. At the same time, the government’s farmer support programmes haven’t been agile and quick enough to provide the necessary support for beneficiaries. In 1994 when South Africa became a democracy white farmers owned 77.580 million hectares of farmland out of the total surface area of 122 million hectares. The new government set a target of redistributing 30% of the 77 million hectares within the first five years in government. This target has been consistently moved over the years, and now the aim is to reach 30% by 2030, in line with the National Development Plan’s agriculture and land reform objectives. Read the full article by Prof. Johann Kirsten and Agbiz chief economist, written for and first published on The Conversation.
Deeds bill is a first step in improving security of tenure
The Deeds Registries Amendment Bill was published for public comment on July 9, with little fanfare. This was to be expected. Amendment bills of this nature are typically technical, uncontroversial and filled with empowering provisions that have more to do with the entity’s own functionality than consumer interface. However, a closer look reveals a single amendment that could dramatically change our understanding of land rights. The bill seeks to allow the registrar of deeds to “… record, in compliance with the requirements of any law, land tenure rights lawfully issued by government or any other competent authority, and record the amendment and cancellation thereof”. Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence Theo Boshoff explores this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Why the obsession with custodianship in land reform?
The Ad Hoc Committee tasked with amending section 25 of the Constitution has published a revised bill for public comments. Whilst the revised bill did not include proposals to nationalise all land through the principle of state custodianship, which was widely discussed a few months ago, it still contained a watered-down version that brings an entirely new set of challenges. Some background is needed. When the committee was originally due to present its proposals to the National Assembly at the end of May, an extension was sought to allow political parties to consult and attempt to reach an agreement on the contested proposals. Perhaps the most controversial proposal made by a political party represented in the committee was to place all land in South Africa under the custodianship of the state. Read more in the linked article by Theo Boshoff.
Research and development are key to resilient food systems in Africa
What will it take to build sustainable, resilient food systems in African countries? This was among the questions considered at the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit in late July. The summit, the first of its kind in this century, aims to identify bold, innovative actions, with measurable outcomes. These actions are needed to achieve many of the sustainable development goals in what the UN has dubbed the “Decade of action”. African ministers of agriculture met before the summit to discuss the continent’s common position. Among the issues they tabled was using agriculture to reduce poverty, particularly for women and youth. We want to contribute to the African common position by flagging the importance of technical innovation and the role of agricultural research and development (R&D) in building the food systems the continent needs. Read more in the linked article co-authored by Lulama Ndibongo Traub, Thomas Jayne and Wandile Sihlobo, written for and first published on The Conversation.
SA 2020/21 maize and sorghum production estimates lifted marginally in July
Although our focus is shifting towards the 2021/22 production season, which starts in October, we continue to monitor the production updates of South Africa's 2020/21 summer crops. Last week, the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) released its sixth production estimate, reaffirming ample supplies. Most crop estimates were left roughly unchanged from June 2021 production figures except for commercial maize and sorghum, which were lifted by 3% and 5%, to 16,4 million tonnes and 203 980 tonnes, respectively. The non-commercial maize saw a much larger revision of an 8% increase from June 2021 to 636 440 tonnes. This placed South Africa's overall maize production for the 2020/21 season at 17,1 million tonnes. This is up by 8% from the 2019/20 production season and the second-largest harvest on record. Meanwhile, sorghum is up by 29% y/y and has the largest harvest in seven years. Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked article.
The outlook for 2021/22 global grains production remains positive
We've recently shared our view on South Africa's consumer food price inflation for the second quarter of the year1, which is a moderation from the higher levels of 7% y/y in June 2021. Amongst various product prices in the food basket that we expect to soften over the coming months are grains, specifically maize, wheat and oilseed. We initially based our view on the Global Food Price Index, which fell 3% in June from the previous month, the first drop after 12 consecutive monthly increases.2 This was underpinned by improved production conditions in the northern hemisphere, leading to expected large grains harvest. On 28 July 2021, the International Grains Council released a monthly update of its 2021/22 global grains production estimates. It remains roughly unchanged from June despite the concerns that warm weather conditions in parts of the US might have compromised the crop.3 For example, the IGC forecasts the 2021/22 global maize production at a new peak of 1,2 billion tonnes, up by 7% y/y. This is on the back of an expected large crop in the US, Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, China, EU, and Russia. Similarly, the global wheat production conditions have improved. Read more in the linked article by Wandile Sihlobo.
South Africa could have yet another good season in 2021/22
As the harvest for the 2020/21 summer grains and oilseeds draws to a close, the focus is increasingly shifting towards the 2021/22 production season, which commences in October. The preliminary insights suggest that South Africa could have another good season, although rainfall might not be as abundant in the 2020/21 season. The three critical indicators we have thus far, i.e., (1) the tractor sales, (2) weather outlook for the next five months, and (3) grains and oilseed prices, paint a positive outlook. First, South Africa's tractor sales for the first half of 2021 are up 27% year on year (y/y), at 3 385 units. Admittedly, the improved farmers' finances following a large harvest and higher commodity prices in 2020/21 have been a key support factor. Still, the positive sentiment about the upcoming 2021/22 production season is also an essential factor behind the higher levels of tractor sales. Wandile Sihlobo analyses the data in the linked article, written for and first published on News24.
World food prices fall for second month in July
World food prices eased for a second month in a row in July, reflecting declines for cereals, vegetable oils and dairy products, but remained up nearly a third over the past year, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 123.0 points last month compared with 124.6 in June. On a year-on-year basis, prices were up 31.0% in July. The Rome-based FAO’s index had declined in June for the first time in a year, marking a pause in a broad rally in agricultural commodities fuelled by harvest setbacks and Chinese-fuelled demand. FAO’s cereal price index fell 3.0% in July from the previous month, weighed down by a 6% drop in maize (corn) prices. Read more in the linked Reuters article.
South Africa’s Khula closes $1.3M seed to scale its software-for-agriculture platform
The myriad challenges faced by farmers in Africa - inadequate financing, education and input distribution - persist and greatly affect the agricultural output on the continent. But startups are providing innovative solutions to these problems, and South Africa’s Khula is an example. The startup, launched in 2018, is finding its niche in the ever-growing industry. Today, it announced a $1.3 million seed round to scale operations across the country. On the surface, it would seem agritech in Africa hasn’t taken off as exponentially as other tech-operated industries. But it has: The agritech sector grew 44% year-on-year between 2016 and 2019, and the continent has the highest number of agritech services in the developing world, reaching more than 33 million smallholder farmers, according to a report from Farmers Review Africa. Please click here to peruse.
Mtubatuba FMD outbreak: follow-up report
Following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in May 2021, in the Umkhanyakude district municipality of the KwaZulu-Natal, the Directorate: Animal Health has released a status report on the situation. The report states that the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has declared a Disease Management Area (DMA) in the KwaZulu-Natal Province in the Government Gazette No. 44783 on 30 June 2021. The DMA includes the district municipalities of King Cetshwayo, Umkhanyakude and Zululand. No cloven-hoofed animals, their products and genetic material are allowed to move out of, into, within or through the Disease Management Area, herein after referred to as KZN DMA, except on authority of a permit issued by the Veterinary Services of the area. The margins of the DMA will be reconsidered once the investigations on the extent of the outbreak has been concluded. Please click here to peruse.
Seasonal climate watch: August to December 2021
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently in a neutral state and the forecast indicates that it will most likely remain in a neutral state for spring, with a likely change to a weak La Niña during early-summer. As we move towards the spring and summer season, ENSO starts playing an important role in our summer rainfall. As such, the increased likelihood of a weak La Niña during early summer is expected to be favourable for above-normal rainfall in that period. The multi-model rainfall forecast indicates mostly above-normal rainfall for the north-eastern half of the country throughout the spring to early summer seasons (ASO, SON and OND), whereas the south-western half, which falls outside the parts which receive summer rainfall, is mostly expected to receive below-normal rainfall Above-normal minimum and maximum temperatures are expected across the country. Read more in the linked report.
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.
Transformation Times - the latest news from the DFDC
The August 2021 issue of the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (DFDC) - Transformation Times - is available at this link.
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
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