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Agriculture Investment

  • I spent the last Saturday of the month in Rayton – a small town located in north-eastern Gauteng. I attended a farmers’ day where I was asked to present on the upcoming 2018-2019 summer crop production season in the context of rising farm input costs, changing climate and land reform.

  • The overseas citrus season is just about to end and there is a slow shift to products from Spain. A German importer of citrus fruit from overseas reviews the past season: "There are still stocks from South Africa, Argentina and Uruguay and sometimes Chile, but most supermarket supplies will be sold this or next week."

  • Funding constraints have hobbled Agriculture Research Council plans to manufacture a vaccine for foot and mouth disease, leaving SA reliant on costly imports from Botswana.

  • With South Africahaving the most advanced and refined food and beverage market on the African continent, Frost & Sullivan believes in a 4%-7% estimated growth in the sector by 2020. The agricultural, agro-processing and food and beverage industries provide an abundance of opportunity for investors as well as key domestic and new players.

  • In South Africa, more than 50% of working age adults don’t have jobs. But is the country asking the right questions when it comes to understanding what drives people’s employment-related decisions? Research on unemployment mostly focuses on getting wages right. But there are also many non-monetary reasons that motivate South Africans’ work-related decisions.

  • Two traditional South African tobacco farms in Limpopo are undergoing significant transformations in becoming sustainable blueberry producing farm businesses under United Export’s premium OZblu brand.

  • Although your body naturally generates nitric oxide, as you age the amount your body is capable of producing decreases greatly. Without intaking a sufficient amount of food, your health, physically and mentally, can begin to deteriorate in different ways.

  • The tough economic conditions in recent months have impacted on the daily lives of all South Africans and have been of great concern to government. The rise in the oil price, change in sentiment towards emerging markets and deteriorating international trade relations have been among the contributing factors. 

  • The South African Berry Producers’ Association, a voluntary organisation, was brought into being seven years ago to act as a collective body representing the nascent industry, and specifically in addressing the registration of chemicals for use in blueberry production.

  • Our recent interaction with winter wheat farmers in various parts of the country has been quite encouraging. In the major producing province, Western Cape, the crop has matured and generally in good shape with expectations of good yields in most regions – all thanks to rainfall received in the past couple of weeks.

  • Livestock farmers and others interested in beef cattle farming can get free advice from experts at the annual Beef Cattle Information Day on Friday 12 October 2018 at Agri-Expo Livestock at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch.

  • Only about 43% of SA's adults work. In most countries, the figure is 60% or more'

    SA's unemployment crisis is the deepest in the world and the forthcoming jobs summit needs to grapple with the scale and horrendous consequences of mass unemployment. This is something that President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged earlier this year when he said that the summit "will need to take extraordinary measures to create jobs on a scale that we have never before seen in this country".

  • A markup of up to 300% on wine is common practice in restaurants, but for the average diner it can feel like a ripoff. We spoke with some restaurant owners to better understand the logic behind high wine prices.

  • The 2018/19 summer crop production season started on a positive footing with forecast showers in most parts of the country in the week of 20 October 2018. This will help improve soil moisture which will be beneficial for the planting activity.

  • Poachers poisoned five lions and brutally mutilated one at a South African predator park this week. The horrific incident occurred on Monday night at Akwaaba Predator Park near Rustenburg, some 80 miles west of Johannesburg in the northeast of the country. 

  • South Africans love mangoes and for the past month, they haven't had to wait for the start of the local season because this is the inaugural season of Brazilian mango imports to South Africa.

    The first large shipment arrived on 20 September, after initial trial volumes by air on 29 August to finalise phytosanitary arrangements. Retailers are expecting future shipments to start arriving earlier.

    More containers are on the way from Brazil’s São Fernando Valley, intended to supply the South African market until domestic production picks up steam, which usually is around the end of November or early December.

    Food Lovers’ Market stores were the first to stock the Brazilian Tommy Atkins. They are well-placed as a result of their existing relationship with a Brazilian lime producer with a mango packhouse. Other large retailers will carry the mangoes from next week.

    There’s a 35% duty on the imported mangoes, which makes it more expensive than local fruit. To keep unit price down, imports are focusing on count 12 mangoes (which are smaller than consumers’ preference for counts 8 or 9 during peak season). All mangoes are class 1 fruit.

    “The exchange rate also plays a large role and coupled with the import duty, it just wouldn’t be economically viable to import mangoes when the local season is running. We’d never import mangoes during the domestic season,” says JP van Tubbergh, import manager for FVC International, international trading arm of Food Lovers’ Market. “Imported mangoes just couldn’t compete with local fruit on price.”

    The Brazilian industry finds South Africa a good outlet for its Tommy Atkins, which is losing favour in the Northern Hemisphere to fibre-free varieties. After an average of 5 days transit time within Brazil, shipments across the Atlantic to Cape Town take around 10 days.

    The local mango industry has expressed some reservations about the new market access. The chairperson of the South African Mango Growers’ Association, Pieter Buys, says that he was quite surprised when hearing about the new agreement for the first time some weeks ago. “We just hope they don’t import an inferior product that damages the local market right before the start of our season.”

    Author: Carolize Jansen 

  • Processing of current land claims could take 200 years and cost more than R600 billion.

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged that South Africa will not be able to reach the goal of reducing the unemployment rate to 6% by 2030 as outlined in the National Development Plan unless the country did something “extraordinary”.

  • For ten years I have been doing ‘state of the nation’ breakfast presentations with Justice Malala in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We do them twice a year in each city.

    I would like to put my latest observations on South Africa’s future, which I shared with audiences last week, in the context of the ‘High Road/Low Road’ chart shown below. It was produced by the Anglo American scenario team in 1986.

    In retrospect, South Africa managed to take the High Road of negotiation in 1990 with the release of Nelson Mandela, and with the subsequent adoption of a new constitution which led to the general election in 1994. In the ensuing years of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as leaders of the country, we continued along the same path at the top of the chart with fairly high economic growth rates.

    However, more recently, our economy has not performed for all the reasons we know about. We have followed the dotted line of descent entitled ‘Failure of Growth’ and have moved to the left with deep divisions among competing groups once again dominating our society.

    We are now approaching the very critical crossroads shown in the lower section of the chart. We either get out of trouble with strong leadership bordering on ‘authoritarian’ to revive the economy and promote unity of purpose; or we descend even further into outright conflict and possibly a ‘Waste Land’ devastated by civil war. It is as simple as that.

    Thus, Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to the presidency comes at a tipping point in the nation’s destiny. If he shows the positive qualities which I know he has from frequent meetings with him when he was the leader of the NUM, we have a chance of moving back once more to the High Road trajectory. If he is overwhelmed by internal divisions inside his own party, or by outside forces which render him powerless, the Low Road beckons with an extreme ending not to be dismissed.

    There are six flags to watch. The first is around corruption: will past perpetrators be pursued to ensure justice is seen to be done and will it be eliminated in future? Such has been the level of corruption that South Africa is now in danger of running out of money in addition to receiving junk status.

    The second flag is around improving the quality of our education system, health care and general infrastructure. No economy can grow fast without all three. The management of state owned enterprises has to be transformed for the better.

    The third flag is around style of leadership because winning nations are like winning soccer teams. People must feel they are on the same side even though they have differences of opinion. Nobody must feel excluded.

    The fourth flag is about pockets of excellence. South Africa has many and we should be replicating them instead of dumbing them down. Like soccer stars are essential to win championships, pockets of excellence ensure that a nation remains in the premier league of the global economy.

    The fifth flag which to me is the most important one of all is whether we open up our economy to achieve genuine economic freedom for all. We need an effective platform for the next generation of young entrepreneurs to launch themselves everywhere in the country. They are the ones who will be providing the millions of jobs required to get our unemployment rate down to single figures.

    The sixth and last flag is the one which in a worst case scenario can ignite a civil war and that is land reform. Reform has to happen but it must happen in a way that encourages enough goodwill on all sides to rule any form of conflict out.

    So what are the probabilities for the different paths represented on the chart? With the possibility of a new dawn arising from the new leadership, a return to the High Road with an economic growth rate of 5% per annum has increased to a 60% probability. The scenario of being stuck on the Low Road, depicted by the circle of economic stagnation in the middle of the chart and representing distribution without growth, is now assigned a 30% probability. That leaves a 10% probability of the wheels coming off altogether as we descend into the chaos of a failed state. Clem Sunter- 

    Watch the flags. They must turn green for a positive outcome. Otherwise prepare for the worst.

  • South Africa is about 8,500 miles from Michigan.

    But it’s home for about 50 agricultural workers in Michiana this summer and some carnival employees at the St. Joseph County Grange Fair last month. 


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