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Great news for South Africa’s beef industry

One positive bit of news I noticed this week is about South Africa's beef industry, with an encouraging headline stating, "Saudi Arabia to start South African meat imports asban ends". This means everything is now in order for Saudi Arabia to import beef from South Africa.

Published: 25/01/2024


Agro Energy Fund: A Milestone for Agricultural Resilience

The launch of the Agro Energy Fund marks a pivotal step in addressing energy challenges in South Africa's agricultural sector. Led by a dedicated energy task team, this cooperative effort aims to counter the impact of energy cuts on farming. Spearheaded by Minister Thoko Didiza, the initiative unites stakeholders like Agbiz, Agri SA, and the Land Bank to ensure sector stability. With a focus on energy-intensive activities, the fund supports renewable energy adoption, securing productivity, and promoting sustainability for a resilient agricultural future. This collaborative endeavor sets a precedent for positive change in the industry.

Published: 31/08/2023


BRICS Agribusiness sectors and the 15th BRICS Summit

The much awaited 15th BRICS Summit and attendant dtic-BRICS Business Council (BBC) events have been held from 13-23 August 2023. Heads of state from all BRICS States except Russia are attending in person, together with business and governmental delegations.  The BRICS Summits allows the agribusiness sectors across BRICS an opportunity to profile agriculture and agro-processing and seek agreement on measures and commitments to facilitate trade.

Published: 29/08/2023


Challenges facing the SA livestock industry

South Africa's livestock industry has faced numerous challenges over the past few years. One of these was the rise in feed prices since 2020, especially for maize and soybeans. The rise in animal feed prices coincided with a worsening in consumers financial strain due to the damaging effects of the pandemic. Thus, we saw a decline in the demand for red meat products as consumers opted for relatively cheaper forms of protein. Moreover, the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to six of South Africa's nine provinces for the first time in history was another challenge for the industry. This brought temporary bans in certain export markets, extending to auctions and livestock movement, mainly cattle, for some time in 2022.

Published: 20/04/2023


Why April is a critical month for SA winter and summer crops

April is an important month in South Africa's agricultural sector, especially for field crops. Later this month, farmers in the Western and Northern Cape, Free State, Limpopo and other winter crop growing regions will start preparing the land for 2023/24 winter wheat, canola, barley and oats production. For now, it is unclear how much area will be planted for each crop. The Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) will release the farmers' intentions to plant data, and key figures for the potential area plantings, on 26 April. We expect most crops' plantings to exceed the five-year average area. For example, the wheat five-year average area planted is 528 690 hectares, which is 7% lower than the area plantings for the 2022/23 production season. Therefore, we doubt that the 2023/24 season will see an area below the five-year average. Wheat prices, although having softened somewhat in recent months, remain relatively attractive for farmers. 

Published: 17/04/2023


A slight improvement in South Africa's March 2023 tractor sales still doesn’t change the outlook of possible moderation

South Africa’s latest agricultural machinery sales painted a mixed picture. The tractor sales were up by 6% y/y in March 2023, with 677 units sold. Meanwhile, combine harvester sales were down by 9% y/y, with 39 units sold. These data aren’t surprising, and we still believe that South Africa’s agricultural machinery sales will cool off this year, following a few years of excellent activity. For example, South Africa's tractor sales for 2022 amounted to 9 184 units, up 17% y/y and the highest annual sales for the past 40 years. The combine harvester sales amounted to 373 in the same period, up 38% y/y and the highest yearly sales figure since 1985.

Published: 17/04/2023


Are retailers and food producers exploiting South Africans through higher-than-warranted food prices?

The Competition Commission's recent report on agriculture and food markets dominated the conversations in the industry groupings last week. Therefore, we thought it was necessary to outline some shortcomings of the report in an essay published in the Sunday Times this past weekend. This morning, we jointly present our arguments in the Sunday Times essay with Professor Johann Kirsten of Stellenbosch University's Department of Agricultural Economics.

Published: 06/04/2023


SA agribusiness should keep a close eye on the rest of Africa

Although we continue to argue that South Africa should expand its agricultural export markets to new frontiers such as India, China, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea, amongst others, the export drive should not be at the expense of the existing markets. We should actively engage with existing markets to stimulate the continued expansion of South African agricultural exports. The engagement should focus on the EU and Asia, both crucial regions for export growth, and the rest of the African continent.

Published: 30/03/2023


SA agricultural exports reached a new record in 2022

We now have the entire year's data on South Africa's agricultural trade in 2022. Exports reached a new record of US$12,8 billion, up 4% from the previous year. Maize, wine, grapes, citrus, berries, nuts, apples and pears, sugar, avocados, and wool were some of the top exportable products in 2022. Notably, the exports were spread across various key markets. The African continent remained a leading market, accounting for 37% of South Africa's agricultural exports in 2022. Asia was the second largest agricultural market, accounting for 27% of exports, followed by the E.U., the third largest market, accounting for 19%. The Americas region was the fourth largest, accounting for 7%, and the remaining 10% went to the rest of the world. The U.K. was one of the leading markets within the 'rest of the world' category. The products of exports to these markets were primarily the same, with the African continent and Asia importing a reasonably large volume or value of maize. Meanwhile, exports to other regions were mainly fruits and wine.

Published: 07/03/2023


SA agriculture exports showed resilience in 2022 despite headwinds

Despite various headwinds throughout the year, South Africa's agriculture exports for 2022 did not decline as much as some feared. Data for the first eleven months of the year show exports at a cumulative US$11,9 billion, up by 3% from the same period in 2021. Moreover, US$11,9 billion is the second largest agriculture exports value on record. When we receive the December exports figure in the coming weeks, it is possible that the 2022 agricultural exports could be just under 2021 levels of US$12,4 billion or even exceed them.

Published: 17/02/2023