News archive

News archive - July-2019

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

23.03.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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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

18.03.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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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

09.03.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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SA farm economy to recover in 2020

South Africa’s farming economy was not in good shape in 2019. This is clear from the agricultural GDP data released this morning by Statistics South Africa. The data show a 6.9% year-on-year contraction for 2019, which is a second consecutive year of contraction in South Africa’s farm economy. While worse than our initial expectations of a 4.0% y/y contraction, this is unsurprising. The output of various crops and horticulture produce declined notably in 2019 because of the drought, while the livestock was negatively affected by the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

04.03.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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Agbiz reaction on 2020 Budget: Challenging times for South Africa

This was yet another challenging budget for South Africa. It was tabled at a time of low economic growth, constrained tax revenue and higher unemployment. At the core of reviving South Africa’s economic fortunes is the sustainability of the power supply. While mismanagement of Eskom over the past few years is regrettable, we are encouraged that the government is committed to “do whatever it takes” to ensure stable electricity supply in South Africa. We hope this does not only mean a fixation to Eskom, but acceleration to the already ongoing reforms in the energy sector. The rising government debt related to especially Eskom remains a major concern. - Agbiz media statement issued on 26 February 2020

27.02.2020 / Media Releases

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South Africa’s food price inflation to remain subdued in 2020

South Africa’s food prices increased at a relatively slower pace in January 2020 compared to December 2019. The data released this morning by Statistics South Africa shows that the country’s food price inflation was at 3.7% y/y in January 2020, while the previous month was 3.8% y/y. This deceleration, however, was not across the food basket. Only price inflation of bread and cereals; fish; and vegetables decelerated. But this was enough to overshadow the increases in meat; milk, eggs and cheese; oil and fats; fruit; sugar, sweets and desserts. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

19.02.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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Agbiz responds to the 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa

“Agbiz welcomes the greater realism articulated in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and especially welcomes the emphasis on inclusive economic growth to address key challenges facing South Africa. Considerable reference was made to developing social compacts between government, business, labour and communities to answer these numerous challenges, including especially the high unemployment rate. Agbiz is involved in a number of these initiatives, including the development of a master plan for the agriculture and agro-processing sector, and supports this approach by the government,” Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz, indicated. - Agbiz media statement issued on 14 February 2020

14.02.2020 / Media Releases

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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

11.02.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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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

07.02.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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Rainfall across SA gets summer crops off to a good start

My last column two weeks ago painted a bleak picture of SA’s 2019/2020 agricultural outlook, highlighting prospects of drought in some regions of the country. Lately, conditions have improved notably, and farmers managed to plant the area they intended.- Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist *Written for and first published in Business Day

05.02.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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Zimbabwe’s decision to lift a ban on GM maize imports could benefit SA in the near term

For years Zimbabwe has maintained a ban on the importation or growing of genetically modified (GM) maize. While the policy disadvantaged farmers who couldn’t produce higher yields from GM seeds as neighbouring South Africa, it also provided protection through phyto-sanitary barriers that protected the country’s non-GM maize producers. The policy also disadvantaged consumers who were compelled to purchase higher-priced maize and its products, which would have been relatively cheaper if the country produced higher volumes from GM seed. -Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

03.02.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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Agbiz represented on the International Bar Association's Agricultural Law Section

In September 2019, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence, Theo Boshoff, was granted the opportunity to present on climate change, Africa and the role of agricultural law at the International Bar Association (IBA)'s annual conference in Seoul, South Korea. Following this conference, the IBA has confirmed that Theo will serve a two-year term ending in December 2021 on the Legal Practice Division's Agricultural Law Section.

31.01.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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There’s optimism about SA’s 2019/20 summer crop season

While South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crop production season started on a negative footing with delayed rainfall across the country, farmers managed to plant the area they intended. This was confirmed by the preliminary plantings data released this afternoon by South Africa’s Crop Estimate Committee (CEC) which shows South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crop area at 3.97 million hectares. This is up 1% and 8% from the intentions to plant data released in October 2019 and area planted in 2018/19 season, respectively. There is an improvement in area plantings of all crops with the exception of sorghum and dry beans whose area planting fell by 28% y/y and 13% y/y, respectively. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist

31.01.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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Agbiz submits written inputs on Draft Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill, 2019

Agbiz has submitted its written inputs on the Draft Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill to amend section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation to the chairperson of the Ad Hoc Commitee, Dr Mathole Motshekga. The Bill was approved in early December before it was opened for public comment. In the submission, Agbiz reiterated its position that land reform objectives can be achieved without resorting to expropriation at nil compensation, if the administrative process is overhauled to ensure efficient administration.

31.01.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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DWS requires the compulsory installation of water meters and monthly reporting of water used for commercial irrigation

On Friday 17 January, the acting director general of the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (DWS) published a notice in the Government Gazette requiring all irrigators to install water meters and report their monthly consumption. This notice specifically relates to those water users who do not form part of a water user association nor an irrigation board. Water users were given 30 working days to comply. - Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence

24.01.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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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

23.01.2020 / Agbiz in the news

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