Agri SA notes the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement tabled by Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni in parliament on Thursday 28 October 2020.

Given the current economic environment at a time when the globe continues to grapple with the worst pandemic in history, we welcome some of the interventions tabled in the mini budget however an opportunity to harvest low hanging fruit has been missed. Following the President’s address where he highlighted that the agricultural sector would be one of the key sectors to kick start the economy again, we expected that national treasury would be more robust in its support for the industry.

The sector is one of the biggest employers in the economy given its labour intensive nature compared to other sectors, accounting for approximately 4.6% of total labour and as such presented an opportunity for further investment into the sector to drive up employment. The reprioritizing of fund allocations, i.e. R5 million deduction from the Ilima/Letsema projects grant and the R980 000 reduction from the land care programme grant does not bode well for this objective alongside market entry for smaller players.

Agri SA welcomes government’s commitment to cut its wage bill by R310.6 billion over four years, including the R36.5 billion cut for 2020, as this shows intent to alleviate pressure on the public purse. We also welcome the R7 billion further allocation for the Land Bank however more could have been done. The further allocation of R10.5 billion to SAA is a setback as these funds could have been channelled to industrial development and localization as per the Reconstruction and Recovery Plan set out by the President. Effective implementation remains critical in the quest for a prosperous economic future for all.

Case IH’s manufacturing facility in St. Valentin, Austria, which produces tractors from 100hp to 300hp and is owned by the parent company CNH Industrial, has received the prestigious title of ‘Efficient Company of the Year’, one of the categories in the ‘Factory 2020’ competition organized by Fraunhofer Austria and Austrian Industriemagazin.

– The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) released the 1st Crop Estimate for the 2020/2021 season with intake volumes estimated to be between 65,0 million and 69,8 million cartons (4.5 kg equivalent). This signals an expected return to normal industry volumes and reflects a marginal growth in hectares planted over the last six years.

The earliest Northern Provinces Region is expected to start a week later than normal, i.e. week 45, while indications are that the Orange River is likely to start about 5 days later due to cooler spring weather. It is still too early to predict exactly when the remaining three South African production regions based in the Western Cape province will start harvesting. According to SATI Chairman Fanie Naudé, the focus will be on providing quality table grapes from South Africa that are an essential part of healthy diets with producers ready to meet the increasing worldwide demand for healthy fruit, especially during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The basis of the crop estimate is supported by the latest vine census, which reflects the SA table grape industry’s response to market preferences through the investment in new varieties that gave rise to the accelerated replacement of older generation varieties with new generation varieties. A larger percentage of young vines across most of the production regions is currently not bearing or not in full production yet. Crop estimates are done in co-operation with growers and industry experts representing all production regions. SATI will use this structure to be more responsive to in-season developments and deviations. The estimate, in the table below, was reached by considering the best available information, experience and observations, the latest industry vine census and historical data.

Expectations for the first half of the SA season up to around week 4 is that volumes are not expected to be higher than in previous years. This is due to the extended colder conditions in the Orange River region with a resultant slightly later start that is expected. A return to a normal crop is expected for the three Western Cape based regions, especially in the late Hex River region where unseasonal rain during the last season caused substantial losses.

It has to be noted that about 60% of the total crop comes from the mid-to-late Berg and Hex River regions with further updates from this region to be expected in a second crop estimate towards the end of the year. The Olifants River Region received plenty of winter rains with a full recovery expected for this region. The realisation of this crop estimate depends on a few critical factors with the weather conditions just before and during harvest the most important.




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