• When Henk Blok outlines the regions where he has worked over the past 40 years, you would never guess that his adult life has been spent farming. From the US to the former East Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Austria, Mr Blok was a man on the move as he pursued his chosen career. A native of the Netherlands, he now owns and runs a 140-cow dairy farm with his wife in Germany’s Rhineland.

    Mr Blok did not grow up in a family of farmers, much less inherit a farm of his own, and so had to jump from farm to farm as he was entering this line of work.

    He was keen, but he is aware of farming’s limited appeal to younger generations.

    “If you show your kids that this is all work and not much fun, why should they take over this job?” he says. “I see people quitting all the time. Most of them, their sons and daughters are not interested in the business.”

    At one time, he even had a business that offered vacation cover to farmers although he stopped the service several years ago, however, partly in order to devote more time to buying his own farm.

    He is not alone in noting farming’s declining appeal to younger people — a problem the EU is looking to address through policy initiatives.

    In a 2013 EU public consultation, respondents named “ageing and succession” as one of the three main challenges to family farming. The other two were the burden of dealing with red tape, and striking adequate commercial terms with larger trading partners such as supermarket chains.

    Family farming represents the bulk of European agriculture. According to 2013 EU statistics, farms on which only family members work, or where they make up more than half the labour force, accounted for more than 95 per cent of the number of holdings and more than 65 per cent of utilised agricultural land.

  • By now there is little doubt that the younger generation is rapidly changing the look and feel of the agricultural industry. Although inevitable, it still may be tough to swallow the fact that millennials now outnumber the baby boomers in this country. We’ve often talked about what this all means for the farmer and for food production in general. For this generation of up-and-comers food is personal. How, where and by whom food is produced matters a lot to them.

  • The Zimbabwean government is likely to give back some land to white farmers, after a land audit is set to be completed in March.

  • Things are not looking good for the U.S. farm economy.

  • According to the World Bank, the food and agriculture sector accounts for 10% of the global gross domestic product, which makes the sector worth almost $5 trillion. If we look at the food as output of farms, it is either sold immediately as raw food, agricultural commodity, or it is being processed and then sold as an intermediate or final product.

  • Industry body Agri SA’s ‘Agriculture Drought’ report for 2018/19 finds that the agriculture sector has shed 31 000 jobs since January 2018 in provinces severely affected by the drought; this also includes a R7-billion loss in turnover.

  • Farmers in South Africa face constant uncertainty regarding weather, politics and market fluctuations - all factors out of their control.

  • If I were to be asked to name one word I used more extensively than any other this week, it would be confidence.

  • To meet that challenge, agricultural businesses are pinning their hopes on technology, and that idea that increasingly sophisticated data and analytics tools will help to drive efficiencies and cut waste in agriculture and food production.

  • Increasing sugar imports and the so-called sugar tax are significant risks that may impact on the profitability of the agricultural sector in the short to medium term, says Land Bank research analyst Gilberto Blacuana.

    He adds, however, that these risks can be mitigated through higher import tariffs and investment in alternative uses of sugarcane, such as ethanol production.

    “The global sugar market is distorted by production and export subsidies, which create an oversupply of sugar. Additionally, almost all countries have tariff protection in their domestic sugar industries.”

    Blacuana says data from the South African Revenue Serviceshows that sugar imports from India have increased substantially in recent months.

    He says the Indian government offers its sugar producers a $150/t rebate or subsidy on sugar exports.

    “This unfair practice, or dumping, makes the Indian sugar [industry] competitive in the global market, thus depressing global prices. This unfair practice has prompted Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer, and Australia, to lodge a formal complaint against India at the World Trade Organisation.”

    This is especially relevant since markets compete for share in the massive sugar importer, the US, which increased its sugar imports by 58.3% between the 2015/16 and 2016/17 season, from 470 000 t to 744 000 t.

    Moreover, Blacuana says South Africa’s export data shows that sugar exports had increased by 54.5% to 1.2-million tonnes in the 2017/18 season. The proportion of South Africa’s exports to domestic production increased from 13.6% in the 2016/17 season, to 37.3% in the 2017/18 season.

    “Should the South African government not take further steps to protect the local market, the domestic market will come under renewed pressure from sugar imports from India. The industry has called for the tariff to be increased from R4 500/t to about R7 000/t.”

    Meanwhile, Blacuana says the Health Promotion Levy, or sugar tax as it is better known, which was implemented in April 2018, involved a 5.2% increase in tax on sugar sweetened beverages.

    Estimates from the South African Sugar Association indicate that the revenue lost since the implementation of the sugar tax is about R1.3-billion, Blacuana points out.

    “While it is difficult to quantify the impact of imports and the sugar tax on employment, the South African Cane Growers Association estimates that the sugar tax is likely to lead to about 10 000 people losing their jobs in the primary level of the sugar value chain; however, this figure does not consider the impact on job losses in the milling and beverage industries. The sugar industry employs about 350 000 people.”

    However, the African News Agency earlier this week reported that the National Treasury’s Mpho Legote had stated that any current estimates are guesswork and that the government was undertaking an assessment of the impact of the sugar tax.

  • Namibia is suffering the worst drought in recent history, with the entire country affected by the dry conditions leaving rangelands barren and parched.

  • Zimbabwe’s Finance and Agriculture Department have confirmed that they have begun the process to compensate the white farmers who were dispossessed of their properties, following the brutal implementation of land reform policies 19 years ago.

  • Farmers shouldn't see themselves as an island, President Cyril Ramaphosa told wine farmers and businessmen when his campaign trail took him to the Beyerskloof wine estate outside Stellenbosch.

  • As the backbone of developing economies, agriculture not only serves to feed a nation but creates employment and, often, contributes significantly to the GDP.

  • Saai (Southern African Agri Initiative) will support South African farmers that lost their farms in Zimbabwe to receive compensation. Saai is also busy assisting Zimbabwean farmers that retreated to South Africa with compensation claims thanks to its network of partner organisations.

    In a dramatic turn of events, the Zimbabwean government recently announced that farmers who lost their farms due to land reforms since 2000, will be compensated. As a first step, an amount from this year’s budget has been provided to be divided between farmers who are financially distressed.

    This offer by the Zimbabwean government comes on the eve of the World Bank’s Spring Meeting, of which Zimbabwe is extremely dependent for soft loans to get its economy back on track. The international condition of compensation to farmers who were deprived of their farms since 2000 under the so-called “accelerated land reform programme”, as well as the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe as a result, are currently hampering economic growth in this country.

    Saai wants to call together the 800 South African victims of Zimbabwe’s disastrous land reform programme and is planning on discussing the process, administration and future of compensation with affected farmers in Pretoria in cooperation with the leadership of the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) – representing 4 500 Zimbabwean commercial farmers – and a legal team led by Willie Spies (of Hurter Spies Inc.).

    Details for the gathering during which Saai, Agri All Africa, the CFU and the legal team will share information on the process, procedures and strategy are as follows:

    Date: 23 April 2019

    Time: 19:00

    Venue: Silver Lakes Golf Estate Clubhouse, Pretoria

    For more information, don’t hesitate to contact Saai at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


    Saai (Suider-Afrika Agri Inisiatief) gaan Suid-Afrikaanse boere wat hulle plase in Zimbabwe verloor het, bystaan om vergoeding te ontvang. Saai is ook besig om Zimbabwiese boere wat na Suid-Afrika uitgewyk het met vergoedingseise by te staan danksy sy netwerk van vennootorganisasies.

    In ’n dramatiese wending het die Zimbabwiese regering onlangs aangekondig dat boere wat sedert 2000 hulle plase weens grondhervorming verloor het, vergoed gaan word. As eerste stap is ’n bedrag uit vanjaar se begroting voorsien om tussen boere te verdeel wat finansieel swaarkry.

    Dié aanbod deur die Zimbabwiese regering kom op die vooraand van die Wêreldbank se Lenteberaad, waarvan Zimbabwe uiters afhanklik is vir sagte lenings om sy ekonomie weer op dreef te kry. Die internasionale voorwaarde van vergoeding aan boere wat sedert 2000 onder die sogenaamde “versnelde grondhervormingsprogram” van hulle plase ontneem is, asook die sanksies wat daaroor teen Zimbabwe ingestel is, kniehalter tans ekonomiese groei in dié land.

    Saai wil die 800 Suid-Afrikaanse slagoffers van Zimbabwe se rampspoedige grondhervormingsprogram byeenroep en beplan om saam met die leierskap van die Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) – wat 4 500 Zimbabwiese kommersiële boere verteenwoordig – en ’n regspan onder leiding van Willie Spies (van Hurter Spies Ing.) die proses, administrasie en toekoms van vergoeding met geaffekteerde boere in Pretoria bespreek.

    Besonderhede vir die byeenkoms waartydens Saai, Agri All Africa, die CFU en die regspan inligting oor die proses, prosedures en strategie sal deel, is soos volg:

    Datum: 23 April 2019

    Tyd: 19:00

    Plek: Silver Lakes Gholflandgoed se Klubhuis, Pretoria

    Vir meer inligting, kontak Saai gerus by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • The total number of farms in the United States declined 3% from 2012 to 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture released Thursday, April 11. Since the 1997 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in the U.S. has declined 7.8%.
  • Farmers and rural communities have a key role in anticipating and responding to the stunning protean nature of the global economy, society and the environment in the 21st Century; indeed, in a similar way to what has always been their pivotal role in moments of fundamental transformation throughout our history -

  • Our life is hell! This farm has been in our family for generations. My forefathers struggled from the boat to the South African coastline. I am an old man but what about my two sons? One son says he doesn’t know if he can raise his children on this farm.”

  • The agricultural industry must pursue "reality-based transformation" to effect initiatives that do not compromise the sustainability of the industry, Empowerdexexecutive chairperson Vuyo Jack said during Agri SA’s Commodity and Corporate Chamber Conference, in Pretoria.

  • John Cherry bends down and takes a handful of soil in his hands, brings it up to his face and breathes deeply.

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