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  • The expected increase in government debt to 61% of GDP by 2022 raises South Africa’s risk for a credit downgrade - impacting negatively on the cost of production inputs such as fertilizer, fuel and agricultural technology as a result of a depreciating Rand.

By Wessel Lemmer, Senior Agricultural Economist at Absa

The world increasingly needs more food to meet the demand of a fast-growing population. According to a recent WEF report, we may run out of sufficient calories much sooner than 2050. Meanwhile, in South Africa the short-term economic outlook does not look great. An increase in policy uncertainty, disappointing economic growth and an increase in government debt may lead to another credit downgrade as early as the end of 2017. Any downgrade would further jeopardise the country’s food security as a weakening exchange rate will most likely lead to an increase in interest rates and higher import costs. This would drive up inflation and the consumer will be the poorer.

Agriculture contributed significantly to the latest positive GDP figures and can play an even bigger role in the economy, if given the support it needs.

Illovo Sugar South Africa (Illovo SA) has received official approval from the South African National Treasury Jobs Fund to provide capital for its project to develop 3 000ha of small-scale grower, cane land on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Working in partnership with Traditional Councils, this initiative will see Illovo SA create sustainable employment for black growers and their families, provide training opportunities for rural households and also increase its contribution to stimulating economic activity in deep rural areas.

Press Release

Johannesburg - Leading water, infrastructure and financial sector stakeholders met in Johannesburg last Thursday for in-depth talks on funding models to improve South Africa’s water security. The third Annual Water Stewardship summit, staged in Sandton, kicked off with calls for the financial sector to look introspectively at ways to support efforts to close the water services infrastructure funding gap amounting to around R30 billion per annum; in support of the coming National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is currently in the process of drafting the country’s new National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, expected completion March 2018. Outlining the goals of the plan, Trevor Balzer, Deputy Director General: Strategic and Emergency projects at the DWS, echoed sentiments made earlier this year by his Deputy Minister, Pamela Tshwete, who, at the first dialogue on the Water and Sanitation Master Plan on 19 May this year, called upon big businesses to assist in funding sustainable development projects.

Yesterday we expanded on our reference to 17 training manuals which we usually draw attention to in the “Co-operatives” chapter. The difference is that we spelled out the name of each one and made it interactive, linking the title to the manual. Accessing these documents is now a click away. We have done the same with the other chapters (see "Vegetables", for example), where grower guides are now immediately accessible.

It is with great sadness that we read about 45 vultures being poisoned this week, ironically the week after International Vulture Awareness Day. That it happened in neighbouring Mozambique is immaterial. The sun shines, rivers run and vultures fly as they have for centuries: nature does not recognise the compromise of the geo-political boundaries that we have drawn.