“Ironically, in times of crises, opportunities abound for people with vision and determination, who thrive on adversity and dealing with the unexpected. Opportunities will open for some farmers who have the courage and imagination to tackle the extreme climatic challenges ahead, with foresight and imagination.” Professor Mark Laing – Professor Emeritus and Chair of Plant Pathology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

In his February State of the Nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared South Africa’s electricity crisis a national State of Disaster.

The Stage 6 power outages since November 2022 have crippled the economy, with billions of rands lost, particularly in small businesses and in the agri-sector.

And now, the “untold damage” after the recent heavy rains that have swept across parts of the country have resulted in a further State of Disaster announcement.

Some good news is that annual inflation slowed for the third consecutive month, decreasing to 6.9% in January from 7.2% in December on the back of a notable fall in the price of fuel.

However, food inflation is at 13.4%. This is the highest it has been since 2009 when the rate was 13.6%.

With an unemployment rate of 32.9% and the country recognised as one of the most unequal in the world, it is no wonder that Busisiwe Mavuso, Chief Executive Officer of Business Leadership South Africa, says: “We are in deep trouble.”

Bloomberg News headlines Mavuso in a February article, titled, “SA at risk of Arab-Spring-like revolt”.

She is quoted as saying that South Africa will face protests like those that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, “unless it fixes broken infrastructure, curbs lawlessness and fosters an environment for investment and job creation”.

In the macadamia and sugarcane sectors farmers are under significant pressure from industry-specific challenges, which include rock-bottom world prices, above-inflation increases in input costs, unpredictable weather patterns due to climate change, and the impact of the South African government’s Health Promotions Levy on fizzy drinks. The decision by Tongaat Hulett Sugar to enter into voluntary business rescue cannot be overlooked as a significant development in the agricultural economy.

As we bring The Macadamia’s first edition for this year to you, it goes without saying that the silver lining is hard to spot in these “a-changing times” – apologies to Bob Dylan. However, the lyrics of the Nobel Laureate for Literature’s song, All Along the Watchtower: “there has to be a way out of here”, seem particularly relevant right now.