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  • Conditions over the interior, including the entire maize-production region, will remain favourable for rainfall during the next few days.

  • Local wool producers are urged to consult with their brokers on any marketing conditions because it is evident that trade with China will not be resuming in the near future.

  • The South African government has detected an outbreak of African swine fever on a farm in North West. The African swine fever is a fatal animal disease affecting pigs and wild boars with up to 100% mortality, but it is harmless to humans.

  • The tastings are aimed at showcasing the international standard of these winners, as well as a selection of Double Gold brandies, but the top awarded fortified and museum class wines will not be featured.

  • As Bernadette Hall looks out onto her farm, a small smile creeps onto her face. "Not much in life is more beautiful than that, eh?" she asked.

  • PERSVRYSTELLING / MEDIA RELEASE.

  • Listening to the daily corruption report from the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture one can easily miss some shards of optimism glinting through the cloud cover.

  • South Africa’s domestic automotive industry received another vote of confidence this week, as Nissan announced ambitious plans to increase its local bakkie production.  The announcement that a diverse configuration of Navara's will be built in Rosslyn, Pretoria by 2020, is the latest chapter in South Africa becoming a global bakkie assembly hub of choice. 

    Here are the locally built bakkies we can justifiable be proud of as local automotive enthusiasts.

                                                               Toyota Hilux

     
    Topping our list, obviously, is the Toyota Hilux. Built in huge volumes by Toyota’s Prospecton facility in KZN, Hilux has been a bedrock of South African bakkie production for decades and is a major enabler of smaller component supplier business in the greater Durban area. 

    Toyota invested R6.1bn to establish tooling and a local supply chain for assembly of the current eight-generation Hilux in South Africa. It has been a monumental success and is South Africa’s most popular vehicle. 


                                                             Ford Ranger

    South Africa’s second most popular bakkie and by far Ford’s most important investment in Africa. The American brand has two locations for Ranger production in South Africa, final assembly in Silverton, and engine production in Port Elizabeth. 

    Between these two domestic production assets, Ford builds Ranger bakkies for both local demand and export to a diversity of international markets. Ford has spent a lot of money to ensure that its South African operations can scale sufficiently to any increase in Ranger demand. 

    To its credit Ford headquarters, in Michigan, has entrusted its local managers, engineers and technicians with a R3bn investment to secure production of the facelifted T6 platform Ranger, which includes domestic assembly of its high-performance Raptor variant. A terrific vote of confidence in the quality of local automotive labour and management skills. 


                                                               Isuzu D-Max

    After divorcing its domestic operations from General Motors in late 2017, Isuzu inherited the KB production line at Struandale, Port Elizabeth. Since then the Japanese brand, known primarily for its diesel engines, has been repositioning its local bakkie portfolio, whilst steadying production. 

    Although Isuzu does not use its South African factory as notable international production hub for exports, it did rename the local bakkie portfolio to D-Max late last year and invested a further R27m in its Mzansi operations.  

                                                                Mahindra Pik-Up

    By far the most successful Indian vehicle brand in South Africa, Mahindra has gradually been increasingly its bakkie business. 

    Last year local demand for the brand’s Pik-Up bakkies increased to a volume which justified the investment in light domestic assembly. Mahindra dedicated an initial R10m to building a compact assembly facility in Durban, geared to a capacity of 2500 bakkies per year.


                                                                Nissan Navara 

    The only local manufacturer to build two different bakkies - NP200 and NP300 - Nissan South Africa will spend R3bn in the next few years to become a production hub for the Japanese brand’s next-generation Navara. 

    Nissan South Africa will become a production hub for internal and African markets, building all configurations of the future Navara. This will be a happy return to building a contemporary full-size bakkie at Rosslyn and attribute the unique status to Nissan South African, of assembling three different bakkie models in one factory: NP200, NP300 and Navara. 

  • African Swine Fever spreads through China.

  • The South African and Zimbabwean citrus season is about to start. “Most growers wanted to start this week or last weekend, but the harvest has been delayed somewhat because of rain. However, if the weather stays dry, harvest and packing will start this week, and the first boat loaded with a fair volume will depart next week,” says commercial manager Tjeerd Hoekstra of Total Produce in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

    Harvest in line with 2017
    “South Africa expects a good harvest for both Valencia oranges and grapefruit. Compared to last year, the harvest will be lower, but last year’s harvest was exceptionally large. This year, the harvest is expected to be in line with 2017, or maybe even a bit higher,” Tjeerd explains. “Last year was strange, with a lot of kilos and small sizes, particularly in grapefruit. This year, people expect volume will mostly consist of sizes 40-45.”

    “An exception to the good harvest are the Navels in the Sunday River Valley in the Eastern Cape. This production can’t be made profitable, and the area is decreasing. The volume of category 2 of these trees is considerably high. That’s why a lot of these Navel trees are being grubbed up and replaced with different varieties,” the importer continues. “In South Africa, a lot of lemon and Valencia varieties are still being planted. The boom in the planting of Nadorcott tangerines is now passed its peak.”

    Empty grapefruit market
    Regarding sales, Tjeerd predicts a fair start to the season. “Grapefruit will be arriving on a relatively empty market in any case. The Turkish season is now ending, and the volume on the market mostly consists of very large fruit. The Moroccan supply is also limited, so the first grapefruit will be arriving on a good market. I do hope we’ll start with realistic price levels, and not like last year, when we started with levels that were too high, it would lock up the entire market. If we start with more realistic prices, we’ll have a better circulation, and stocks won’t become too high.”

    “It’s too early to make predictions about the orange sales. However, you can see that Egypt’s position on the market is getting larger and larger. That could be worrying for South Africa considering the expected expansion, particularly if they manage to extend shelf life. The Egyptian oranges are currently being sold on the market at incredibly low prices,” Tjeerd says. “The false codling moth (FCM) and citrus black spot (CBS) will remain a point of attention, particularly after the rain in the north of recent weeks. Fortunately, South Africa did very well regarding CBS, with just a few interceptions.”

    Fixed prices elsewhere
    Besides, the European market is no longer the first priority of South African exporters. “Everyone is working hard on gaining access to other markets, where prices are supposedly fixed. Because of this, the volume for Europe decreased in recent years. Unfortunately, at the same time it can be noticed that they need Europe to lose volume of the final Valencia, for example, when other markets are full. Export volumes then increase, but that doesn’t necessarily mean quality increases as well. All in all, it could be said that doing business with South Africa is changing for importers,” Tjeerd concludes.

  • A weekly report released by the National Department of Water and Sanitation said that although the Eastern Cape retained a 62.3% dam level this week, the town of Makana continues to experience a water crisis as the local dam plummeted to 7.6% this week.

  • Cuba’s leaders are developing ostrich farms – and may breed crocodiles and rodents too – because traditional meats and eggs are so scarce in the country.

  • The European Commission’s Director of Trade Defense, Leopoldo Rubinacci, has reportedly said that Brussels will study the possible activation of the safeguard clause in the trade agreement with South Africa amid an ongoing crisis in the Spanish citrus sector.

  • Once again wetter than average conditions are expected to continue over large parts, including the maize-production region. 

  • South African Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on Tuesday highlighted that the country's future development probably depended on how fast it mastered the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

  • The study, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and with contributions from scientists in countries across the southern Africa region, uses available data and a variety of models to examine likely agricultural developments, particularly related to crops, in the period to 2050.

  • The 30th sale of the 2018/19 wool season took place yesterday with 9 220 bales on offer of which 86,5% was sold.

  • Call it what you want: economic justice, expropriation without compensation, helping the poor, but the reality is most of the world will sum it up in one word – theft.

  • I am ending this week, not by highlighting an agricultural story that dominated the news headlines – as it is typically the case — but some encouraging developments for the South African beef industry.

  • The SA Cheese Festival, which celebrates its 18th anniversary from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 April 2019, is once again highlighting alternative products that will accompany cheese for exceptional taste experiences. One of the ever-innovative highlights of the festival is the Cape Made: Taste the Alternatives initiative.

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