Management intensive grazing

What meat should I be eating?

Informed consumers globally would doubtlessly have asked themselves this question at some stage. Meat and dairy production invariably top the list of production systems when discussing environmental hotspots of agriculture. When dealing with sustainability and livestock, a discussion of whether we should eat meat or not, and if we do which type, is inescapable. Read more

Analysis of Western Cape dam levels

Western Cape dam levels: 15% by April 2017?

Since the winter of 2014, the Western Cape region has been in the midst of a significant and worsening drought. The winter rains of 2015 and 2016 have done little to offer relief, and as of the beginning of November 2016, the City of Cape Town entered into Level 3 Water Restrictions, and the agricultural operations of the Western Cape continue to face substantial water-related risks. In this piece, I take a look at the historical levels of the major dams in the Western Cape, and what these might mean for the province’s municipal and agricultural water resources in 2017. Read more

IT for Agri

IT for Agri – The top apps around

There are a number of freely available mobile and web-based apps that are particularly useful to those operating in South Africa’s agricultural sector. If you haven’t used one of these apps already, we suggest you take a look! Read more

A quick look at the historic Paris Climate Deal that will enter into force on the 4th of November 2016

The Paris Agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is finally committed to a low-carbon future, and it promises to unleash investment and innovation in clean energy on an unprecedented scale. Read more

Aquaculture environmental impacts

Where – and how – was my fish grown?

Chances are you will need to ask this question more and more. Historically, capture fisheries (fish caught in the wild) have been the most prominent source of traded fish. However, capture fisheries volumes have levelled off in the past decade and aquaculture (the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments) is increasingly looked on to meet the increasing global demand for fish. In fact, aquaculture already produces almost half of all fish for human food – and this share is expected to increase to more than 60% by 2030! Behind this growth, there are some important sustainability issues that need to be considered. Read more

A Fresh Look for Confronting Climate Change!

The Confronting Climate Change team is very excited to share their updated website and calculator tool with you. Please do visit the new site HERE and start entering your data on the online calculator tool and let us know whether you find it user-friendly. Read more

What are a Business’s Social Dependencies and Impacts?

In my last post, which you can access here, I examined the throughput of energy and materials that is at the heart of every business (the dark blue horizontal arrow) and the flows from, and to, the environment that must be sustained if the business is to achieve the strategic objective of sustaining “economically viable throughput indefinitely”. In this post, I will look at social dependencies and impacts, and how they fit into the Sustainability System Map.  Read more

Odds stacked against SA beekeeping

The odds stacked against SA’s beekeepers

In South Africa, honeybees and their pollination services contribute an estimated R16 billion to the national GDP, of which approximately R10 billion is generated in the Western Cape (Engineering News 2015). With the changing profile of deciduous fruits, increases in vegetable production; and large increases in vegetable seed production and expansion of macadamia nut plantations, the demand for these pollination services is expected to “double over the next five years” (Allsopp[1], pers. comm. 2016).

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SA's Carbon Tax

UPDATE: SA’s Carbon Tax & Offsetting Developments

Since the Draft Carbon Tax Bill was released in November 2015 (see our carbon tax news item  of 11 April 2016), National Treasury has held various stakeholder engagements. Although various issues are now clearer, a number of issues are still being finalised. The next draft Carbon Tax Bill is expected by late August or September this year.  Herewith an update since our last carbon tax news item. Read more

Brexit: South African Agriculture

SA’s Agri Exports: Understanding Brexit

On the 24th of June, 2016, David Cameron announced the surprising results of the UK’s Brexit referendum – the scales were tipped towards leaving the EU, sending global markets into turmoil. The GBP dropped to a 31-year low against the USD, and USD2 trillion were wiped off global markets. The rand slipped by 8% against the USD (1,2). Beyond these initial exchange rate and market shocks, there are obviously further significant deeper social, political, and economic implications for the UK and the EU. But as the dust is settling, and the markets begin to recover, what are the potential impacts to South Africa’s future trade relations, especially those relating to agriculture?

4% of South Africa’s total exports are destined for the UK, and this comprises roughly 20% of South Africa’s total exports to the EU (3). Obviously these export figures are far more heavily weighted in some industries than others, this being particularly true for agriculture – in 2014, the UK was South Africa’s third largest export destination for agricultural products (4). Roughly 30% of South Africa’s fruit exports were destined for the UK over the 2013/2014 season. Table 1 shows the component of total exports to the UK and the EU for each major group of fruit. The story is similar for South Africa’s wine exports to the UK, where, in 2013, 25% of South Africa’s wine exports were destined to the UK (5). Obviously these percentage components will fluctuate year-to-year with commodity prices.

Brexit: South African Agriculture

Table 1: Exports to the UK and the EU, based on the 2013/2014 season





The immediate Brexit implications for South Africa’s agricultural exports relate to exchange rate fluctuations – to date, while the rand has weakened against the dollar, it has strengthened against the GBP, decreasing the competitiveness of exports. But potential longer term impacts to agricultural exports relate to trade agreements. South Africa currently exports to the UK under the recently signed EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement. Once the UK leaves the EU, South Africa will no longer have access to the UK market through the EU, and new trade agreements and tariffs will need to be negotiated directly with the UK, leaving room for uncertainty (6).

But these changes will only take effect once the UK actually leaves the UK, a process expected to take at least two years (7). While this requires us to have faith in SA’s negotiating powers, it is not cause for immediate concern.




  1. Business live. Brexit panic wipes $2 trillion off world markets – as it happened [Internet]. The Guardian. 2016 [cited 2016 Jul 11]. Available from:
  2. Potelwa X. Brexit spells bad news for SA: Rand falls most against the dollar since 2008 as UK votes to leave the EU [Internet]. Mail and Guardian. 2016 [cited 2016 Jul 11]. Available from:
  3. van Rensburg D. How Brexit may affect SA economy [Internet]. City Press. 2016 [cited 2016 Jul 11]. Available from:
  4. DAFF. Economic Review of the South African Agriculture. 2014.
  5. Analytix. South African Wine Exports Analysis. 2014.
  6. Mchunu S. Brexit would impact SA’s agricultural sector [Internet]. Business News. 2016 [cited 2016 Jul 11]. Available from:
  7. Pearson M. UK votes “Leave”: Why it will take at least 2 years to exit the EU [Internet]. CNN. [cited 2016 Jul 12]. Available from: