News archive

News archive - July-2018

Solid recovery in South African tractor sales in September 2018

After experiencing a double-digit decline in August 2018 due to delayed harvest, amongst other factors, South African tractor sales recovered by 11% y/y in September 2018, with 612 units sold (Figure 1). This somewhat signals farmers’ readiness for the 2018/19 summer crop production season which commenced this month, although planting activity hasn’t progressed much thus far. Broadly speaking, this is an encouraging reading as we continue to monitor the investment path in the South African agricultural sector following a slowdown in the Agribusiness Confidence Index in the third quarter due to continued uncertainty underpinned by the current land policy reform proposal, amongst other issues. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research

09.10.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Maize production estimate revised down, while wheat was lifted from last month

Today the Crop Estimate Committee released its final production estimates for the 2017/18 summer crop and second production estimated for 2018/19 winter crop. In terms of summer crops, the major oilseeds such as soybeans and sunflower seed were left unchanged from the previous month, whilst the commercial maize production estimate was revised down by 2% from the previous estimate to 12.9 million tonnes, which is somewhat in line with our expectations. From a winter crop perspective, the wheat production estimate was revised up by 2% from last month to 1.8 million tonnes – all thanks to good rainfall in parts of the Western Cape and an expansion in area planted in the Free State. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research

27.09.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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SA farmers face twin blow of rising input costs and possible drought

These are challenging times for SA farmers, whether viewed from the perspective of rising input costs or the weather outlook. In a few weeks the 2018-2019 summer crop production season will start on a negative note, partly due to rising costs of agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and fuel. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Resarch * Written for and first published on Business Day

27.09.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Comprehensive Development Support Policy prioritises partnerships

On the 3rd of August the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) published the draft National Policy on Comprehensive Producer Development Support for public comments. The policy is designed to bring together producer support from both government and private sector in a coordinated manner. A first look at the policy shows positive signs, but the methodology may need a bit of work. - Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence

27.09.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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El Niño return threatens summer crop

After showing solid recovery from drought in the previous and current marketing seasons with above-average maize and soybean production, the debate on climate-related challenges could resurface as the opening of the summer crop planting window fast-approaches in the next two to three weeks. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research *Written for and first published in Business Day

13.09.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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South African tractor sales fell by 18% y/y in August 2018

Following a solid positive growth over the past five months, South African tractor sales fell by 18% y/y last month, with 487 units sold. This decline, which far exceeds our expectations of a 5% y/y drop, was partially underpinned by delayed summer grain harvesting activity which partially strained farmers’ cash flows. The harvest process, however, did not inspire a notable uptick in combine harvester sales either as the data shows a 25% y/y decline, with nine units sold. This could be explained by the fact that the 2017/18 crop is well below the record levels seen in the previous production season.  

 

12.09.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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South African tractor sales grew by 5% y/y in July 2018

The South African tractor sales continued to rise in July, albeit at a slower pace than the previous month, up by 5% y/y with 525 units sold. While lower than our expectations of 578 units, this is the highest tractor sales figure for the corresponding month since 2015. In the same period, the harvester sales declined by 8% y/y, with 12 units sold. This data is unsurprising as this is a relatively quiet period in the agricultural sector as the summer crop harvest process approaches completion, while the new season planting process will only commence in two months’ time.

12.09.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Agbiz engages with CRC on the review of Section 25 of the Constitution

“Agbiz today had the opportunity to make an oral submission to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) on its position in terms of the review of section 25 of the Constitution,” Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz said. The Agbiz delegation was led by the chairman, Francois Strydom, and further comprised the CEO of Agbiz, Dr John Purchase, Wandile Sihlobo and Theo Boshoff, who presented the submission to the CRC. The following is the position of Agbiz as summarised in the presentation. - Agbiz press release, issued 4 September 2018

06.09.2018 / Media Releases

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Agri SA and Agbiz meet with President Ramaphosa and Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on growth and employment

As part of a broader and comprehensive initiative, the agro-food value chain, as a major role player in the economy of South Africa, as well as a major employer, met firstly with Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on 15 August, and then with President Ramaphosa and Minister Dlamini-Zuma in the afternoon of 21 August. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce a sector-based approach to inclusive growth and employment specifically for the agro-food value chain.   *Joint media statement by Agri SA and Agbiz

22.08.2018 / Media Releases

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Fresh perspectives at PMA Fresh Connections

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) hosted its 8th annual Fresh Connections: Southern Africa Conference and Trade Show from 15 to 16 August 2018 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. It included an expanded trade show, top conference speakers, industry sessions and the opportunity to network with over 600 decision makers from 14 countries in the local and global fresh produce supply chain.

17.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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BFAP Baseline 2018 released

The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) launched its Baseline 2018 and Agricultural Outlook 2018-2027 on 15 August. The outlook covers agricultural production, consumption, prices and trade in South Africa for the period 2018 to 2027. It was also a celebration of the 15th year that BFAP has guided the policy arena, generating intelligence for the agro-food industry, partnering with private and public sector stakeholders, and to inform on relevant issues. BFAP used this opportunity to launch a brand-new corporate identity that personifies its objective of producing rigorous multi-disciplinary analyses to support strategic and operational decision-making.

16.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Does size matter in South African farming?

Seeing that fellow South Africans are talking about farm sizes today, I thought it would be useful to brush up a short essay I wrote a few months back in this subject.  In May 2018, I participated in a panel discussion hosted by Nation in Conversation at NAMPO in Bothaville. The discussion focused on the importance of the economies of scale and question we had to answer was down to this: does farm size matter in South Africa? - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research *Written for and first published on Business Day

16.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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How private sector can supply land in a way that makes reform work

Throughout our series of bi-weekly articles in Business Day over the last 10 weeks we have endeavoured to constructively contribute to the land reform debate. While we flagged some unintended consequences of the proposed expropriation without compensation policy, we always argued for an efficient land reform process, with minimal State involvement to quickly restore land rights to the majority of South Africans. - 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 Business Day, 13 August 2018

16.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Trade war trumps usual focus on harvests and weather

At this time of the year in the agricultural markets, the harvest prospects for the northern hemisphere and weather forecasts for the southern hemisphere are typically discussed, as the 2018/19 planting season is fast approaching for the latter. But this time around the typical discussion has been eclipsed by the uncertainty in the global trade environment caused by the trade dispute between the US and China.  - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research *Written for and first published on Business Day on 16 August 2018

16.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Women’s work on African farms

The World Bank recently released an interesting book titled Agriculture in Africa: Telling Myths from Facts. It covers a wide range of topics from smallholder land access, post-harvest losses, financing of agricultural inputs, agricultural labour productivity and women’s work in agriculture amongst others. Having recently written an article on women’s contribution to the South African agricultural sector, I was quickly drawn in on the chapter that dealt with the subject. The book puts women’s share of labour in crop production at an average 40 percent, with variations across countries. Worth noting, however, is that the data does not cover the entire continent, but selected countries, namely: Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. With that said, the countries cover a wide array of the continent’s farming zones. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research.

09.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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The female face of agriculture

From the classroom to the farm to the boardroom, women in agriculture not only play an important role in feeding the world, but they are affecting positive change in the agricultural space. Women fill many roles across the agricultural spectrum where they influence the agricultural agenda and decision-making. They are farmers and farmworkers, agricultural researchers, educators, journalists and agri-business people.  - Karen Grobler, Agbiz marketing and communications manager

08.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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The subtle art of saying everything and nothing at the same time

The title of this article may ruffle a few feathers, and perhaps it is a bit mischievous to do so, but it is exactly what is currently happening with statements related to amending the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. - Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence * Written for and first published on Media 24

08.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Is expropriation a red herring for traditional leaders?

Traditional leadership and land expropriation are two very thorny issues in their own right, but once the two became conflated it was bound to ruffle some feathers. The issue came to the fore after the recent comments made by King Goodwill Zwelithini regarding the Ingonyama Trust, but are these issues really related? - Theo Boshoff, Agbiz head of Legal Intelligence * Written for and first published in Mail & Guardian

02.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Stable global food supply feeds bright inflation outlook

The world is in a far better place in terms of food supply and costs than in the recent past. This is evident in the Food and Agricultural Organisation food price index, which averaged 173.7 index points in June, down 1.3% from May and a percentage point from the same time in 2017. This was underpinned by a decline in global grain, vegetable oil and dairy product prices due to large supplies. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of Agribusiness Research  *Written for and first published on Business Day on 2 August 2018.  

02.08.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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SA's logistics amongst the best in the world

South Africa’s logistics are comparatively more efficient than most industrialising countries, albeit showing a concerning trend in having regressed from 2016’s ranking. This is according to the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index which ranked South Africa at number 33 out of 160 countries surveyed, down from number 20 in 2016, with Germany still leading the world. With growing expectations that South Africa could potentially have large agricultural surpluses for export markets, particularly in maize, the logistics services will play a critical role in ensuring the success of the activity.  –  Wandile Sihlobo, head of Agribusiness Research

31.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Cairns Group Farm Leaders disappointed at new US agricultural subsidies

The Cairns Group Farm Leaders are deeply concerned by the United States (US) Administration’s announcement that the US Government will provide US$12 billion to support US farmers impacted by tariffs imposed on US agricultural exports.

27.07.2018 / Media Releases

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Agbiz participates in BRICS Business Forum

Against the backdrop of a full-blown trade war between the US and China, and the US also targeting, amongst others the European Union and fellow North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries (Canada and Mexico), thus foe and friend alike, the BRICS Business Forum was held at the Sandton Convention Centre on Wednesday, 25July 2018. Dr John Purchase, as board member of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), attended the forum and shares some perspectives.

27.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Why do African countries consume what they don’t produce, and produce what they don’t consume

One of the most prolific messages from the Nelson Mandela centenary lecture presented by Prof Patrick Lumumba was that Tata Madiba would have asked why do African countries consume what they don’t produce, and produce what they don’t consume. He further made a point about coffee, cocoa, tea and other raw commodities that are exported by African countries, and then import expensive, high-value finished products derived from the same inputs they exported. - Dr Mmatlou Kalaba, a trade economist with the University of Pretoria and the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy and Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of agribusiness research. 

26.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Expect Western Cape drought to knock farm exports

Agriculture has its fair share of challenges, but I try to find uplifting domestic and regional developments to discuss. This week, agricultural trade was in my cross hairs. For context, I recently reflected on the positive trade performance in calendar 2017, when South Africa's agricultural exports surpassed $10 billion (about R134 billion) for the first time, boosted by growth in exports of edible fruits, beverages, spirits, vegetables, grains and other farm products. The $10.0 billion figure represented a 15% year-on-year increase from $8.7 billion. Africa and Europe were the largest destinations for agricultural exports, collectively absorbing 67% of total exports last year in value terms. Asia was also an important market, taking 24%. The Americas and the rest of the world accounted for 5% and 4%, respectively. In the same period, imports increased by 5% year on year, reaching $6.7 billion, particularly driven by wheat and rice. – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research *Written for and first appeared on Business Times on 16 July 2018

19.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Large grain supplies help bring some relief to consumers

I often use this column to present an update of domestic and regional food and agricultural production conditions. Earlier in 2018 I shared the positive outlook for SA’s summer and winter crop production. Earlier in 2018 I shared the positive outlook for SA’s summer and winter crop production. As farmers wind up the summer crop harvest process and winter crop planting approaches completion in the country, I think it’s appropriate to present an update again. This time around I have good and bad news. – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research *Written for and first appeared on Business Day on 19 July 2018

 

19.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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South Africa needs to create an enabling environment for small businesses to thrive

It is no secret that South Africa, like many emerging economies around the world, is struggling to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. These challenges are not insurmountable, but we are currently on the wrong side of the curve with signs that the economy is more concentrated than ever before. Unemployment, and youth unemployment, in particular is a ticking time bomb as the majority of South Africans are excluded from the mainstream economy. – Theo Boshoff, Agbiz Head: Legal Intelligence *Written for and first published in Mail & Guardiian on 13 July 2018

19.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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2018 Agbiz Congress - Spotlight on SA's trade relations

Europe remains a major market for South African agricultural exports and has growth potential, but a partnership approach is needed to address the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) measures affecting exports such as citrus, said Sifiso Ntombela Agbiz head of International Trade and Investment at the congress.

16.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Has expropriation without compensation debate started negatively affecting investment in SA agricultural sector?

We typically use the Agbiz/IDC Agribusiness Confidence Index to gauge the health of the South African agricultural sector, as well as the potential investment path. Of late, a number of commentaries have surfaced arguing that the discussions about the proposed expropriation without compensation have not negatively affected investment in the agricultural sectors, suggesting that investment has actually increased over time. This argument leans on investment in JSE food listed companies, which we believe would not be an ideal measure of observing investment in farming. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research and Dr John Purchase, Agbiz CEO

13.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Black farmers of Eastern Cape reap harvest of success

South Africans are a very inquisitive nation. Each time I tweet about South Africa's agricultural fortunes, someone asks about proportions of that particular product in racial terms. This past week, I posted a chart about liquor consumption – 76% of it is accounted for by beer. Almost immediately, the question popped up – what proportion of the barley and sorghum used to make the beer was grown by black farmers? – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist *Written for and first published in the Business Times on 08 July 2018.

12.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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Farming 101 teaches the importance of land ownership to leverage returns

Since the passing of the parliamentary motion to review section 25 of the Constitution there has been an explosion of views on land reform, land tenure regimes and state ownership of land. From these debates it has become clear that there are diverse views on the value of land and its role as an instrument of financial security and leverage. – Wandile Sihlobo and Prof Johann Kirsten *Written for and first published on Business Day on 9 July 2018

11.07.2018 / Agbiz in the news

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