• The modern domestic donkey (Equusasinus) descended from the African wild ass, (E. africanus) in northeastern Africa from about 6000 years ago.

  • In South Africa the early grape producing regions are winding down packing, while the later regions are in full swing. Harvesting conditions have been good throughout all the regions, there was a little rain in Berg River but according the South African Table Grape Industry statement it only had minimal impact, overall the good conditions have ensured a good quality grape harvest.

  • Reinet Meyer is the senior inspector at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the provincial city of Bloemfontein, located in the central grasslands of South Africa. In April, she received a tip: Two adult lions had been held for two days without food or water in tiny transport crates on a farm called Wag ‘n Bietjie (“Wait a While” in Afrikaans) about 20 miles outside the city.

  • Following President Cyril Ramaphosa clarification of his intentions to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the Mail & Guardian Data Desk decided to take a closer look at the current ownership.

  • There could be some positive news ahead for weary consumers when it comes to food prices, with global trends having a positive impact on SA.

  • At the citrus summit in Port Elizabeth last month, Nick Gutierrez, the CGA representative in the USA, put a number of reasons to delegates to explain why the final rule that would allow citrus from all of South Africa’s growing regions to the USA, has not been published yet.

  • Opening an exhibition on the fourth industrial revolution at parliament recently, science & technology minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane stressed that SA plans to use its opportunities to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality — but also that the country needs new skills for the new industries and markets that will emerge.

    A case in point is the fruit sector which, as a high-value and labour-intensive industry with high export potential, is central to agriculture’s contribution to economic growth.

    Adopting and adapting to technological changes associated with the fourth industrial revolution could have huge implications for the industry’s global position. While the country is an established world player in specific fruits, it lags behind competitors such as Mexico, Peru and Chile. SA is also yet to maximise the substantial opportunities for export growth in high-value and in-demand fruits such as berries and avocados.

    Research by the Centre for Competition Regulation and Economic Development at the University of Johannesburg shows that harnessing technological change is necessary for producers to keep up with escalating standards; to comply with the many — and complex — plant health requirements; and to adapt to climate change and environmental constraints.

    Our research shows that key technologies in the global fresh fruit industry that must be leveraged by local producers to remain relevant include electronic digital platforms and the internet of things, biotechnology, and sorting and cold storage equipment. Collectively, these offer technological solutions to SA’s key challenges in the fruit industry.

    While mainly large players are adopting these technologies, an industry-wide scaling can benefit participation and market access for black farmers. The growing number of increasingly complex plant health requirements make it difficult for producers to comply and access export markets. The current paper-based and manual systems of export certification require technological solutions to cut down time wasted with frequent trips to the government offices to sign paperwork, and eliminate human errors associated with manual data capturing.

    A promising local development has been an electronic data-sharing platform jointly developed by Fruit SA and the department of agriculture, forestry & fisheries. The platform, called Phytclean, captures data on orchards and growers’ phytosanitary records for the issuing of electronic certificates. After a pilot phase in the citrus industry, electronic certification will be implemented in June 2019 from SA to the Netherlands.

    Another core challenge in exporting fresh fruit is the high levels of congestion and delays at SA’s main ports, which reduce shelf life drastically. The situation is particularly acute during peak seasons of major export products such as citrus. In 2011, the World Bank estimated that delays at the Durban port cost the local citrus industry $10.5m per season.

    With delays at the main ports expected to increase as fruit export volumes grow, integrated digital platforms that link local producers’ in-house systems to ports, logistics companies and shipping lines are crucial to foster better planning and faster movement of fruits. Digital solutions that reduce the costs of logistics and ease the export process could increase the value of exports and help new players to enter export markets.

  • Grobank is pleased to announce the appointment of Bennie van Rooy as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from 1 July 2019.

  • Agriculture robots -

  • The Emerging Black Importers and Exporters South Africa (Ebiesa) has called on government to stop an application launched by the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) to increase import tariffs on chicken to 82%.

  • TLU SA is extremely concerned over the rise in and brutality of farm attacks in South Africa, with an increase of 60% in the past decade.

  • The decision of the ANC government to go ahead with changes to Section 25 of the Constitution – which relates to expropriation without compensation – is short-sighted.

  • As the world has watched with fear and fascination the fires burning in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, satellite images show a far greater number of blazes on the African continent.

  • In some parts of the world, camel milk is a local specialty. Dubbed the "white gold of the desert", it’s been popular in the Middle East and certain parts of Africa for thousands of years, but has only recently made its way to South Africa. But what makes the milk so unique, compared to other kinds of milk on the shelves?

  • A shortage of avocados on the market, after a low crop from the Lowveld, is spurring on the avocado harvest in the Southern Cape which, fortuitously, is a few weeks ahead of the usual schedule.

  • New-vehicle sales in South Africa in 2019 showed a strong buying-down trend, with under-pressure consumers either opting for trusted and/or value-for-money brands, rather than more premium cars.

  • Necessity is the mother of invention, and this rings true in Zimbabwe where the government is reformulating policy.

  • Anyone keeping an eye on South Africa’s financial situation will be well aware of the recent spate of interest rate cuts implemented by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

  • From wannabes to world leaders: Milestones that put South Africa wines on the map.

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his most recent newsletter, acknowledged that small businesses were helped by various grants and loans provided by a number of government departments to survive the lockdown. While this is all good and well, the reality is that many businesses in need never received a cent from government.