Two years into the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that corruption levels have stagnated worldwide. Despite commitments on paper, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption over the last decade and this year 27 countries are at historic lows in their CPI score.1 Meanwhile, human rights and democracy across the world are under assault.
Kindly find our initial impression on the Russia-Ukraine conflict impact on agriculture. We will continue monitoring these developments and provide insights on how we see the events affecting South Africa’s agriculture and agribusinesses
Investigation into the future viability of the current soybean Breeding and Technology Levy system
In an email on 13 December 2021, DALRRD requested the inputs of affected stakeholders on the document Draft DALRRD SOP: Risk Profiling of FBO of regulated grains, oilseeds, and grain products for the purpose of inspection by the designated assignees. The due date for receiving inputs is 31 January 2022. Dr. Mutengwe is the Acting Deputy Director: Food Safety and Quality Assurance in the Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development who drafted the SOP. Affected stakeholders in the handling and storage sector are required to submit their comments on the draft SOP to Agbiz Grain at Annelien@agbizgrain.co.za by Tuesday 25 January 2022. The draft DALRRD Standard Operating Procedure can be accessed at https://www.agbizgrain.co.za/content/resources?page=ag-news
AN NOTICE OF INSPECTION RATES for the grains Leaf Oilseeds Industry Services last year in the Government Gazette announced, was set aside by an appeals board from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
Members of Agbiz Grain and other market participants submit on a voluntary basis, the weekly producer deliveries at silos. Agbiz Grain have decided to discontinue the submission of the weekly information in 2022 onwards.
Kelebogile Malete, Assistant Manager: Qualifications Maintenance from the QCTO (Quality Council for Trades and Occupations) has noted on the 13th of May 2021, that the OC: Grain Depot Manager had gone past internal evaluation and moderation stages. The qualification was on round robin post the Internal Occupational Qualifications Committee (IOQC) sitting. On 23 June 2021, Minah Matloa (Manager: Qualification Development & Compliance from AgriSeta reported to Agbiz Grain that the qualification was approved for QCTO’s internal review committee. The qualification will now be recommended for registration at SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority). The qualification was recently published in the Government Gazette for comments and we are waiting for the outcome.
The Market Working
Group of the Maize Forum Steering Committee proposed a change to the
definition of frost damaged maize kernels in the grading regulations.
Agbiz Grain’s Quality Committee opposed the proposed changes to the
definition after it became clear that the grading experts on maize in
South Africa who conduct training and who are handling disputes on
behalf of members in the value chain are in disagreement. Not only on
the current definition but also on the new proposed definition.
Consequently, Agbiz Grain organized a workshop on Tuesday 29th of June
in order for the experts to reach agreement and to finalise an
acceptable definition to be tabled to the Market Working Group of the
Maize Forum Steering Committee. A new definition was agreed upon and
submitted for publication in the Government Gazette
Agbiz Grain has identified the need to clean the SAGL’s dataset. The clean dataset will ensure the accessibility of usable data. The wheat and sorghum industries are unable to contribute to the cleaning of the SAGL database due to the present financial constraints in these two industries. The SAGL made a formal presentation to the Maize Forum Steering Committee regarding the cleaning of its database, although this is not deemed to be a high priority at present. The request was not supported.
The Maize Forum Steering Committee (MFSC) recommend that SAGIS is to be requested to report monthly stock levels per grade in future, without verification of the grades, and it is recommended that the Maize Trust accept the quotation for the initial software changes to be made by SAGIS. The MFSC agreed to have this done monthly and to accept the quotation (approximately R186 000 once off). Note: Agbiz Grain requested in meetings with SAGIS, SACOTA and Grain SA that the reporting of monthly stock levels should be inclusive or all roleplayers in the market and only reported at national level.
The competitiveness in the storage of malting barley may unintentionally be impacted negatively by the dominant position of a single large scale buyer of malting barley in the local industry and the unfavorable risk to reward ratio experienced by suppliers. Consequently, Agbiz Grain acquired a legal opinion how to solution the problem in collaboration with malting barley suppliers (Including Agbiz Grain members) in a horizontal relationship with the sole buyer of malting barley in South Africa. Legal council indicated that the exercise will promote competitiveness in the industry and from that point of view it is allowable to collaborate closely on the matter to develop a common storage protocol. Agbiz Grain is now drafting a concept protocol and guidelines on the production, intake, storage, dispatch, handling of disputes, change to the grading regulations, evaluation of cultivars and research.
Agbiz Grain supports the sector wide application for appeal to prevent the implementation of inspections by LEAF Services on 12 July 2021.
The JSE published the amended Detailed Agricultural Contract Specifications on 25 May 2021 following an extensive review and comment period. Agbiz Grain has collaborated with the JSE to review the JSE rules applicable on storage operators. The underneath workshop was organised for the benefit of Agbiz Grain members and has been be facilitated by Dr Raphael Karuaihe and Mr Chris Sturgess.
The Market Working Group of the Maize Forum Steering Committee proposed a change to the definition of frost damaged maize kernels in the grading regulations. Agbiz Grain’s Quality Committee opposed the proposed changes to the definition after it became clear that the grading experts on maize in South Africa who conduct training and who are handling disputes on behalf of members in the value chain are in disagreement. Not only on the current definition but also on the new proposed definition. Consequently, Agbiz Grain organized a workshop on Tuesday 29th of June in order for the experts to reach agreement and to finalise an acceptable definition to be tabled to the Market Working Group of the Maize Forum Steering Committee.
The occurrence of frost and the impact on the germination capacity and germination energy of malting barley has a big financial and negative impact on the storage sector. The sector needs to reduce the risk associated with the production, handling and storage of malting barley before the start of the next season. Agbiz Grain consulted an grading expert to prepare the following for inclusion in the current grading regulations;
DALRRD has requested feedback on the Draft DALRRD Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): Risk Profiling of FBO of regulated grains, oilseeds and grain products for the purpose of inspection by the designated assigees for Agbiz Grain’s inputs. The reasons for amending the SOP are among others:
(1) to align the SOP with notices that have since been gazetted
(2) the amendment of the frequency of inspections per each categorized FBO, and the
(3) an amendment to include the designated assignee.
Agbiz Grain are preparing our feedback to be submitted as input to DALRRD this Friday 27 June 2021.
The Transnet Freight Rail and Transnet Port Authority conduct a bi-weekly meeting to discuss operational issues with respect to the exports of especially citrus and maize. Although exports is not a core focus area for Agbiz Grain (Storage operators) we stepped in and presented an overview of the operational issues that we identified in dealing with especially Transnet Freight Rail. Agbiz Grain was invited by the Decongestion Meeting Committee to do a presentation on Friday 18 June on operational issues and the increase in exports for both maize and citrus. Our inputs were recognised and appreciated by the Citrus Growers Association and the Decongestion Committee. The meeting on Friday 18 June followed on a previous presentation prepared for the meeting of 3 June between Agbiz and the CEO of Transnet Freight Rail.
The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) has received the information of 30 different silos across 9 storage operators and calculated a preliminary index. The three largest cost items include salaries, depreciation and maintenance. Over the most recent three years, the year on year changes in the Grain Silo Cost Index compared closely to that of the PPI (Producer Price Index). The BER is busy verifying the data and finalising the report. The report should be available within the next two weeks. The weight of the cost components and actual costs differs largely between the respondents. Individual repondents should be able to compare their own information with the national average.
The Trade Working Group has accepted the results of the study and recommend that the project not be expanded to yellow maize, which will result in a saving on the approved funding. However, matters got complicated when a consensus recommendation of the Working Group was questioned at the Maize Forum Steering Committee by the same members serving on the Working Group, although it is accepted that some new information may become available.
Agbiz Grain received interest from other storage operators and companies that associate with Agbiz Grain to join the organisation as members. Consequently, Agbiz Grain has reviewed its membership policy and fee structure by the end of May. In addition to the normal membership by storage operators it is now also possible for business entities that associate with Agbiz Grain but who are not storage operators to become an associate member of the organisation. We are hoping to welcome a couple of storage operators and other business entities as new members of Agbiz Grain in the immediate future.