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The recent sharp price increases in South Africa’s white maize shouldn’t be a worry: a temporary market blip

In times of uncertainty, as we are in during COVID-19 and a 21-days lockdown in South Africa, any unusual rise in prices of goods which society relies on the most can be discomforting. This is particularly the case with South Africa’s staple white maize prices, which on 23 March 2020 reached the highest levels last seen in 2016, which was a drought period, at R3 981 per tonne. The question some might be confronted with is whether such price moves should be a concern to the extent that policymakers might need to intervene in the market by setting a price cap? The short answer is no. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

Published: 24/08/2020

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SA food supplies are expected to hold despite Covid-19

The outbreak of Covid-19 will change the way we live our lives, without exception. The virus has raised serious concerns in society, ranging from health safety and economic conditions to essential food supplies. In the UK, US and parts of SA we are starting to see empty shelves as consumers stockpile in fear of disruptions to global food chains. This has given rise to questions whether SA could experience food shortages in the near to medium term. I doubt that this will be the case, at least on a national level for most food products. - Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo

Published: 24/08/2020

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SA agriculture jobs up marginally in Q4, 2019

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey data for the fourth quarter of 2019 show that South Africa’s primary agricultural employment increased by 4.2% (or 36 000 jobs) from the corresponding period last year to 885 000 (see Exhibit 1). The notable job gains were mainly in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo. This was largely in the horticulture, field crops and livestock subsectors. These activities, however, were not evenly spread across all provinces. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

Published: 24/08/2020

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SA tractor sales down notably in January 2020

The South African agricultural machinery market started the year on a bad footing. Tractor sales were down 14% y/y, with 333 units sold. This is the lowest monthly sales data that has been recorded over the past six years. This sales data is, however, unsurprising as it is a continuation of the 2019 tractor sales trend. -Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

Published: 24/08/2020

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What to expect from food price inflation this year

South Africa’s food price inflation averaged 3.1% y/y in 2019, which is well below market expectations. What many analysts seem to have underestimated was the length of the period that meat prices would remain subdued for, and its influence thereafter on the overall food price inflation headline number. This is because meat contributes 35% of the food inflation basket – a significant share. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist *Written for and first published on Fin 24

Published: 24/08/2020

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What does the African National Congress and Business for South Africa say about agriculture post-Covid-19?

In the second week of July 2020, the Economic Transformation Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) and Business for South Africa (B4SA) , released their respective strategy documents for the post-COVID-19 inclusive economy recovery for South Africa. Both the ANC and B4SA prioritised the agriculture sector, for its transformative potential and aligned their strategies with chapter six of the National Development Plan (NDP) , which reflects the commitment of both the government and private sector to the larger development agenda of South Africa. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

Published: 19/08/2020

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Request for expression of interest (REI) to supply farmers with production inputs

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is requesting wholesalers/ distributors/ agribusiness outlets to express interest to supply farmers with production inputs. The process is aimed at making supply arrangements with interested wholesalers/ distributers/ agribusiness outlets, for the emergency procurement of specific agricultural production inputs, to enable the smallholder and communal farmers to complete the current production cycle. The department intends to procure by means of issuing purchase vouchers to approved farmers. Farmers will purchase from the wholesaler/ distributor/ agribusiness outlet nearest to the farmer. - Media statement issued by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on 21 April 2020

Published: 19/08/2020

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Urgent call for businesses to divert PPE inventories to national healthcare sector

Business for SA’s Public Health Workgroup is calling on all companies, especially those in lockdown, to urgently divert their stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in the national healthcare sector. The PPE is critically needed to protect frontline doctors and healthcare workers, and to keep them healthy in their fight against the pandemic. - Media statement from Business for South Africa Public Health Workgroup issued on 30 March 2020

Published: 31/03/2020

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What COVID-19 means for South Africa’s agriculture and food supplies

The COVID-19 pandemic is fast changing the way we live our lives, without exception. The virus has affected every facet of life – health and safety, travel, school and work, and access to basic provisions, such as food. Many supermarkets are in a frenzy as people scramble to secure basic needs amidst impending uncertainty. In this note, we attempt to understand the impact of the COVID-19 on South Africa’s agricultural sector and also food supplies. We offer perspectives on perceived food shortage, agricultural commodities price dynamics, farmers indebtedness and policies that can be implemented. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

Published: 23/03/2020

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SA tractor sales remained subdued in February 2020

After falling to the lowest monthly level in six years in January 2020, South Africa’s tractor sales recovered by 46% m/m in February 2020 to 485 units. While encouraging, this is still 8% lower than the corresponding period in 2019. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

Published: 09/03/2020

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