After experiencing a decline in employment in the first three quarters of 2017, South Africa’s agricultural sector recorded a 5% q/q rebound in employment in the fourth quarter to 849 000 jobs. This quarterly increase was mainly in field crops, horticulture and livestock sub-sectors. The provinces driving it were the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. Overall, while the quarterly uptick is encouraging, agricultural employment is still down when compared to the corresponding period the previous year - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist.
In an interview with Grootplaas, Dr John Purchase CEO of Agbiz sums up what delegates who register for the 2018 Agbiz Congress can expect to learn at this prestigious event. Themed "Uncertainty Creates Opportunity", the topics will focus on factors that create uncertainty in the sector, and how agri leaders and farmers who are integrated in the value chain can form strategies to seize opportunities.
The ANC decided at its conference in December that it would propose amendments to the constitution to seize land without compensation to speed up the process of giving black people more land that they were stripped of during white rule. ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured people that the policy on the expropriation of land without compensation will be implemented in a manner that will not cripple the country or destabalise the agricultural sector. Theo Boshoff, Wandile Sihlobo and Sifiso Ntombela have authored a discussion paper on the land reform debate. Theo Boshoff joined SABC News live to discuss the paper.
During the ANC's 54th National Elective conference in December 2017, it was announced that a decision has been made to amend the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation, provided that it is sustainable and does not harm the financial sector or food security. In the absence of a policy paper or explanatory memorandum, it remains unknown how the party intends to give effect to these seemingly competing interests. In order to stimulate public debate around the issue, researchers from Agbiz have attempted to unpack the possible modalities of the announcement by using a scenario-based approach - Theo Boshoff, Wandile Sihlobo and Sifiso Ntombela of Agbiz
South Africa’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries achieved a positive trade balance of R44.3 billion in 2017, largely driven by 1.9 percent growth in aggregate exports as compared to the previous year. Europe and Africa continued to be the largest destination markets for agricultural exports, collectively absorbing 70.5 percent of total exports in 2017, measured in value terms. During the same time, imports slowed by 3.9 percent due to a 24.7 percent decline in imports originating from American countries - Sifiso Ntombela, Trade economist and Agbiz Head: International Trade and Investment
After the solid performance of 19% y/y increase in December 2017, the South African tractor sales were again up by 10% y/y in January 2018, with 527 units sold. This was somewhat surprising given that the area planted with summer crops declined in the 2017/18 production year. With that said, we believe that the uptick was due to a fairly stronger domestic currency, as well as late plantings in the western parts of the country - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist
Last week, I came across an interesting article by the U.S. agricultural economist, Jason Lusk, highlighting the disruptive trends in food and agriculture. Lusk identified six key trends on the horizon. However, the two most notable ones were: (1) Blockchain – an underlying technology that facilitates bitcoin trades and could be applied to many other industries; and (2) Online food buying – Amazon might do to food what they have done in other industries - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist.
When it comes to agriculture, Western Cape is essential – not only because of its production of fine wines, but also for its contribution to South Africa's agricultural labour market and the broader economy. The province is a leading employer in primary agriculture, commanding a share of 20 percent of the country's total agricultural labour force in the third quarter of 2017. In addition, the province is the second-largest contributor to the agricultural economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), with a contribution of 22 percent - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist
In the 30th of January 2018, Agbiz delivered a presentation on behalf of its members to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on the proposed amendments to the National Credit Act. The National Credit Amendment Bill, 2017, is unique in that it was initiated not by the Department of Trade and Industry, but by the Portfolio Committee itself. The primary aim of the Bill is to assist the most marginalised people in our economy, namely overindebted persons who earn an income of less than R7500 per month with not realisable assets - Theo Boshoff, Agbiz Head: Legal Intelligence
In the first eleven months of 2017, South Africa imported a total of 461 thousand tons of chicken. This is down by 7 percent when compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. During this period the Americas, that is, Brazil and the United States, were the key suppliers accounting for more than two thirds of the imports - Sifiso Ntombela, Agbiz Head: International Trade and Investment Intelligence