The first brown locust swarms of the season have been seen in parts of the Northern Cape and officials say more are expected following good rainfall in recent weeks.
The provincial department of agriculture, environmental affairs, rural development and land reform issued a press release early this morning (Friday, 5 November 2021) to inform farmers that locusts have been seen in the ZF Mgcawu district around Upington, Poffader, Marydale, Langklip and Groblershoop, and in the Pixley ka Seme district around Niekerkshoop, Sutherland and Richmond.
“The outbreak comes as a result of the changes in the weather patterns and recent rainfalls in the province,” the department said in its statement. “We are expecting more outbreaks from other districts, as the province has received good rains in the past few weeks.”
A team of locust controllers was dispatched to control the spread, with assistance from the national department of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
“We call on land owners to cooperate with our controlling teams by allowing them access to their premises for a smooth control of the swarm.
“We further call on members of the public and farmers to report any visibility of these locust swarms in their areas to the following departmental officials:
- Ms Mulalo Matodzi on 083 326 7773;
- Ms Vuyokazi Mpumlwana on 084760 8176; or
- Dr Ikalafeng Kgakatsi on 072 198 9882.
Food price increases have ‘little to do with Covid-19’
Food prices in Mzansi are on the rise and the problem might have little to do with the Covid-19 pandemic and more with the high prices of fuel and fertiliser.
According to TLU SA, consumers and farmers have been put on the back foot with this week’s sharp rise in the price of petrol (R1.21) and diesel (R1.48), not to mention the record highs of fertiliser prices.
A recent report by Grain SA sets out the increase in input costs for maize farmers. It is especially the price of fertiliser that has a big influence, as it accounts for about 30% to 35% of a maize producer’s variable production costs, the report states.
Local fertiliser prices are currently at record high levels for nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, which increased especially sharply in the last few months.
The price of seeds also increased. According to Grain SA’s calculations, maize seed prices for some of the most popular cultivars have increased by an average of 5.6% since last year, while the average of all the maize cultivars has increased by about 3.3%. Sunflower seed prices increased by an average of 3.7%, while soybean seed prices increased by 2.6%.
Furthermore, the total variable cost of maize is expected to have an average increase of between about 20% to 28% year on year, according to Grain SA.
Estimated production costs for the 2021-2022 production season for maize farmers in the eastern Free State are R13 998 per hectare and in North West R13 109.
Potato farmers expect 30% increase in input costs
Information provided by Potatoes South Africa shows that four of the eight regions that supply potatoes in the country work at a loss.
Production costs for potato farmers per hectare for the 2020-2021 season vary between R112 000 and R333 000. After all the input costs have been considered, farmers currently receive an average of R2.24 profit for a 10kg bag of potatoes.
Looking at forecasts for potato farmers, TLU SA says that they expect their input costs to increase by an average of 30%, which will have an impact on the profitability of the product as well as market price.
If the government does not actively intervene and address the Eskom challenge, it is a further influence that will hamper production. “Where there is insufficient power supply to irrigate lands, the result is permanent damage to yields and this factor entails further losses.
“The import of chemicals is a further problem. There is a shortage of fertiliser products, which further negatively affects production. Then the government must also reconsider the setting of minimum wages. Labour costs, especially in agriculture, become unaffordable when looking at the profit margin and input costs.”
TLU SA says that each department or semi-state institution is pushing on its own to achieve potentially set targets and seemingly does not realise the impact on the bigger picture.
The department of agriculture, it believes, may need to require that no other department make increases affecting the sector before agriculture has not evaluated affordability.
SALBA appoints new chairperson
The South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (SALBA), whose members include major alcohol manufacturers Distell, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and DGB, has appointed Pamela Nkuna as its chairperson, replacing Sibani Mngadi.
Nkuna is also head of corporate affairs at Pernod Ricard and has over ten years of experience in the alcohol industry, focusing on regulatory matters and stakeholder engagement at national government and provincial levels and with local, civil society and NGOs.
During her career in the alcohol industry, much of her focus has been on matters related to harm reduction programmes, including binge drinking, drinking and driving (or walking) and underage drinking
Nkuna also sits on the board of Aware.org, a non-profit organisation that works in partnership with the alcohol industry to develop a culture of responsible alcohol usage in South Africa through programmes aimed at curbing the problems and ills caused by alcohol misuse and abuse.
SALBA’s chief executive officer, Kurt Moore, has thanked Mngadi for his decisive and steady leadership during a very challenging period for the alcohol industry.
Multiple bans were imposed on the sale of alcohol as part of the government’s strategy to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“During his term, Sibani played a key and visible role in the media as a spokesperson for SALBA, clearly articulating the industry’s position in respect of the alcohol bans and highlighting the devastating impact that these have had on the alcohol value chain and in fostering the growth of illicit trade in the country,” Moore said.
Nkuna’s appointment comes at a crucial point for the alcohol industry, Moore explained, as they start to rebuild and focus on the future of a post-pandemic world.
“Her experience in regulatory matters and her work on harm reduction will be critical in steering the industry during this next season as we advance our commitment to focus on upscaling existing harm reduction programmes.
“[As well as] finding new, innovative measures, including supporting legislative and enforcement measures to deal with our key areas of concern ‒ drinking and driving or walking, binge drinking and underage drinking,” Moore said.
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