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It’s going to take more than a village

No matter how we look at it, surviving in the modern-day world will always come down to rands and cents. You need to have enough to go around.

According to the Stats SA Q4 2021 GDP release, at 8.3%, agriculture reflected strong growth for the second successive year. Heartening for the sector, against the stark backdrop of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s budget speech in February, where he made no bones about the continued eroded state of SA’s economy. The minister confirmed a revised local economic growth estimate of 4.8% for 2021 (down from the 5.1% estimate announced during the last Medium Term Budget Policy Statement).

The World Bank’s “Building back better from COVID-19, with a special focus on jobs” report – a new economic analysis for SA – suggests that the country matches the self-employment rates of peers like Turkey, Mexico and Brazil. This, the report says, is the catalyst that could halve SA’s current unemployment rate (self-employment in SA represents only 10% of all jobs, compared to 30% in most of its upper middle-income peer countries).

Current global challenges demand collaboration as a key driver for sustained growth. And locally, it’s no different for the fruit industry. In his foreword, Justin Chadwick reiterates the absolute importance of continued support from government and value chain partners, in collaboration with the industry. If every partner plays their part, – understanding fully, the widespread implications of their actions (or inaction) – sustained growth would certainly be more visible.

In this edition, we also expose the hardly-talked-about scourge of fruit theft (an economic inhibitor and, in some cases, a threat to rural safety), we discuss port container terminal productivity and capacity, shine the spotlight on internal browning as a major contributor to postharvest losses, and investigate Haplothrips on table grapes.

And while the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine is disturbing from a humanitarian perspective, it will also have significant economic ramifications. In 2020 SA exports to the Ukraine comprised mainly citrus to the value of US$16 million, representing 30% of the total value of exports registered by SHAFFE member countries. As for Russia, SA and Argentina are its main suppliers of fresh produce and represent 69% of the total volume exported there by SHAFFE member countries in 2020. The main fruit types exported to Russia by member countries during this period included apples, pears and citrus, collectively representing 80% of total member country exports to the country. According to SHAFFE, anticipated reduced exports to the Russian and Ukrainian markets could result in redirection and oversupply of citrus, apples and pears to other destinations like the EU and US.

And at the time of writing, the UN Environmental Assembly 5.2 discourse that centred largely on creating the world’s fi rst plastics treaty, had just concluded. This was a historic event, the outcome of which will certainly affect the fruit industry (amongst many others). Indeed, it’s going to take more than a village to tackle our prevailing challenges – whether global or local. Everyone will have to play their part.

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