The draft National Ports Amendment Bill, published for comment last week Friday, seeks to give effect to the 'user-pays' principle by allowing the National Ports Authority to raise revenue through levies. The pros and cons of this approach should be carefully considered when public submission on the Bill are made. It is no secret that key agricultural commodities such as citrus, deciduous fruit, wool and others are banking on demand from overseas markets to maintain growth. South Africa's climatic conditions and sophisticated production methods position us well to produce these popular commodities, but any export-led growth strategy relies on an efficient port system to facilitate trade. Sadly, disruptions and an aging infrastructure have hampered this strategy of late. - Theo Boshoff, head of Agbiz Legal Intelligence
Cannabis has now been decriminalised in over 50 countries in the world, with others joining the bandwagon. Canada has been one of the leading countries in developing the sector, with stocks such as Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, and Aphria attracting attention. Many Canadian entrepreneurs and investors have been streaming into Lesotho and some are waiting for the floodgates of this new wealth to open across the continent. Green Fund estimates that the global cannabis market is worth $150bn and the forecast by Barclays places the value of the sector at $272bn by 2028. Please click here to listen to a 702 radio interview with Wandile Sihlobo on this topic. - Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo and Prof. Mzukisi Qobo, associate professor at Wits Business School *Written for and first published in Business Day.
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Reform, Thoko Didiza, together with the deputy ministers, Mcebisi Skwatsha and Sdumo Dlamini, tabled the department's programmes implementation plans for the 2019/20 financial year during the budget vote speech on 16 July 2019.
Disease management remains a key aspect of South African agriculture, especially when it comes to livestock, as this industry is the greatest contributor to the sector, accounting for 51% of total production, Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo told agricultural journalists at the National Animal Health Forum (NAHF) and Agricultural Writers South Africa liaison workshop earlier this week. "For export activity to take off, biosecurity is key, considering the recent incidents of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that resulted in a ban on beef as well as wool exports."
If the US maize crop was at an advanced stage of growth, the latest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report would have convinced us that the supplies will be in better shape than initially feared. Last week, the agency lifted its estimate for US maize production by 1% from June 2019 to 352 million tonnes. This improvement, coupled with an uptick of the Black Sea's production estimates led to a 1% increase in the 2019/20 global maize production estimate to 1.1 billion tonnes. This would, however, still be 2% less than the 2018/19 harvest. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist
The 2019 IFAMA World Conference was hosted in Hangzhou from 22 to 26 June 2019. The conference focused on e-commerce and agri-food value chain transformation. Agbiz CEO Dr John Purchase was invited as panellist in a session on land use tenure, governance and land policies.
The overarching theme of the 2019 Agribusiness Africa Conference hosted by Farmer's Weekly this week, was market access, and one of the key discussion topics was how to secure a better deal for African countries within the global agricultural trade environment.
The effects of the changing climate, which is, of course, a global challenge, have been felt in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia in the recent past. This has been through erratic rainfalls and more frequent occurrences of droughts and floods. For countries whose economies are largely dependent on agricultural fortunes, the impact of climate change has largely been felt through smaller harvests, poorer grazing conditions for livestock and ultimately food price inflation. However, less discussed but equally important is the impact of climate change on value-chain industries such as agricultural inputs and equipment providers, agricultural financiers, and food processing companies, amongst others. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist *Written for and first published on Daily Maverick
Erratic weather conditions and more frequent droughts and floods are exacerbating uncertainty in the agricultural sector. While these have largely been a phenomenon of sub-Saharan Africa and Asian countries, the Americas are also starting to experience these harsh conditions. The hallmark of changing climate in 2019 has been the prolonged excessive wet weather conditions in the US, which led to delayed plantings in a number of areas. By mid-June 2019 there were fears of possible tight global maize supplies, which saw maize prices rally because of slow plantings. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist *Written for and first published in Business Day
The Department of Minerals and Energy published a National Industrial Strategy on biofuel production in South Africa as far back as 2007. Sadly, this strategy received widespread opposition from certain groupings based on a misunderstanding of its potential impact on food security. As such, the strategy has still not been finalised. The biofuels industry has the potential to create in excess of 25 000 jobs and contribute indirectly to land reform, rural development, reduce the negative environmental impact of transport fuel, and reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels. It therefore, ticks the boxes from a social, economic and environmental point of view. With our economy under distress, tough decisions need to be made and it may be time to look critically at the validity of opposing comments in light of empirical data. -Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence