The Saudis were in town this last week, and seemingly had an interesting engagement with South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The main purpose of the visit was to discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on technical cooperation in the field of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, and also to identify potential areas for investment (side note: The Ministry should be thankful we are not the United States, President Trump is apparently not a fan of MoU’s, see here). - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research
Behind some of the policy proposals and discussions on land redistribution in South Africa is a persistent notion that the country should establish 'small-scale farms' so that there could be more participants, and increase in productivity. This view was further shared by some participants at a conference organised by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas) at the University of the Western Cape on 4 and 5 February 2019. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research, and Prof Johann Kirsten, director of the Bureau for Economic Research at Stellenbosch University, written for and first published on News 24.
Land reform is necessary in South Africa, but that is about the only issue regarding land reform on which there is consensus. When we start unpacking why land reform is necessary, some people say it is because the majority of South Africans were disenfranchised and disempowered through years of colonial conquest, segregation and apartheid, while others will argue that it is to contribute to economic growth or to alleviate poverty and achieve greater income equality. Some even think it is to put agriculture on a more sustainable growth path. - Wandile Sihlobo and Prof Johann Kirsten
On February 6, Business Day published a piece by Wandile Sihlobo in which he detailed the growing trend in the communal areas of the Eastern Cape where agricultural land is increasingly being used for settlement purposes. This article struck a chord as it could easily have been written about any province in SA, such is the magnitude of the trend. SA may be a rather large country but only 13% of our land surface is suitable for crop production, with only 2% to 3% truly being regarded as high potential. - Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence *Written for and first published in Business Day
Last month I painted a bleak picture of South Africa’s grain and oilseed crop conditions due to then dryness in the central and western parts of South Africa. Therefore, it is only fair that I present an update following the good rainfall over the first two weeks of February. Crop conditions have generally improved across the country, and are likely to be in good shape for some time as the precipitation forecasts for the next couple of weeks are positive, according to the South African Weather Service. The local weather bureau sees a possibility of abovenormal rainfall over the next two months in summer rainfall areas, which should support the late-planted areas. While this is a welcome development, it is worth noting that this is not a normal rainfall pattern for South Africa. The crop would typically be maturing around April, but this time things are different due to late plantings, on the back of delayed rainfall. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research *Written for and first published in Business Day
On the 15th of February, Minister Nkwinti from the Department of Water and Sanitation hosted a consultative forum on transformation in the water sector. Although the size and nature of the consultation made it difficult to meaningfully participate, the consultation shed some light on four key aspects related to water management in South Africa. - Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence
This year’s Budget Speech comes against the background of tough macroeconomic conditions, characterised by weak economic growth, less effective tax administration and collection, and rising demand for government expenditure, amongst other factors. The frank assessment by Minister Mboweni, as well as the recognition that economic growth is fundamental to fiscal sustainability, is welcomed. - Agbiz media statement issued on 20 February 2019
Agbiz has awarded the Agbiz Centenary Bursary for 2019 to 24-year old Lerato Ramafoko who has completed a BSc Agriculture degree with an agricultural economics major, at North-West University. Lerato is now enrolled at Stellenbosch University for a master’s degree in agricultural economics with Prof Nick Vink as her supervisor. Her proposed research will focus on the trade-off relationship between food security and the environment. - Agbiz media statement issued on 18 February 2019
South Africa’s primary agricultural employment improved marginally to 849 000 jobs in the last quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter. Although this data is encouraging in a climate where South Africa is exploring strategies that could unlock job creation in the agricultural sector, the country is still far behind its target of creating a million agricultural jobs by 2030 as envisaged in the National Development Plan. What's more, if the underutilised land in the former homelands and other parts of the country are not brought into full production with a key focus on labour-intensive sub-sectors, notable job creation in South Africa’s agriculture will not materialise. Fortunately, the President in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) signalled a positive message on this. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research
On the 14th of January 2019, as the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, I convened a meeting with the Red Meat Association to engage on better responses on the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Limpopo, Vhembe District. In this meeting we agreed on a collaborative approach between government and Industry in eliminating the spillage. I must commend the contributions so far from the industry in particular at technical committees’ level. The update we are giving today is a cumulative work of the collective past two weeks.