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Sunday, 18th November 2018

South Africa News Headlines

Family as a valuable business stakeholder
JOHANNESBURG -  In the early stages of operation, almost all owner-managed businesses are essentially family businesses, regardless of whether or not the owners family members have any direct involvement in the business.  This is likely because entrepreneurs are notorious for working overtime, which means the lines between work life and home life can often become blurred, with each facet of life heavily influencing the other.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as family can prove to be one of an entrepreneurs greatest assets a refuge of emotional support when things are tough at the business, a source of inspiration during tedious times, a sounding board to help with difficult decisions. But like all relationships upon which an enterprise depends, this relationship requires concerted effort and focus. First and foremost, open and transparent communication is key. Any entrepreneur who wants to rely on their family as a business stakeholder needs to keep them abreast about good and bad developments in the business. They have to understand why money may be tight from time to time, or when the business is going through a particularly stressful period that may require longer working hours and result in added stress.  It is important, in this sense, to avoid trying to shield your family from any bad news relating to the business. The reality is that they are much more likely to become anxious by noticing that you are under pressure without knowing the context, so it is often better for everyone to allay anxiety by being open and transparent about business performance. On the flip side of this, make a point of celebrating the achievements of your business with your family. If you land a big contract, for example, arrange a family treat such as celebratory family dinners. Keeping communication channels open and honest through the good and the bad will also allow your family to offer emotional support when you need it. Being vulnerable takes courage and always leads to a stronger family bond.  That being said, however, open communication does not replace quality time spent together as a family. It is therefore crucial that when having to spend long hours at work, you try to make it up to your family by spending quality time with them on another day. It may also make sense to invite your spouse and children to spend some time with you at work, if you work away from home.  Lastly, while daily communication around the dining room table is crucial to keep the family informed, nothing stops an entrepreneur from putting time aside for a more formal discussion, perhaps once a year, about the state of their business to their family.  Just as you would with a shareholder or a potential joint venture partner, these formal catch-ups help to focus the exercise and give it weight. The family is, after all, one of an owner-managed businesss most important stakeholders. Ben Bierman is the managing director at Business Partners Limited.  BUSINESS REPORT 

Use your bonus wisely to relieve financial stress
JOHANNESBURG - It has been a tough year for most South Africans, so the chance of the festive season being sweetened by a 13th cheque or bonus, and the possibility of extra spending money is welcome. But taking a longer view and using your bonus wisely could make life in 2019 a lot easier. Instead of regarding a bonus as extra money that falls outside traditional income and can therefore be spent freely, investing your bonus will not only reduce stress, but could also pay handsome dividends If your household budget is under pressure, the best thing to do is to use a bonus to reduce the pressure. The less you owe, the less you have to pay out of your hard-earned salary at the end of every month. In fact, using extra money wisely means that you can think about starting a savings plan for the benefit of the family. There are several ways to put a bonus to work for you: * Pay off debt. Pay off debts that attract the highest interest first. Usually this means tackling credit card debt first. Credit card interest can be 18percent a year or more, so by reducing your balance - or preferably getting it to zero - you will be saving money. * Pay an additional instalment on your car. This will reduce your repayment period and also provide a buffer if you have a financial emergency. The credit in this account will mean you can use the cash normally reserved for a payment instead. This saves looking for a loan or putting more money on a credit card. * Pay the bonus into your mortgage bond. This has enormous benefits, even if you make a one-off payment. The money credited to your account reduces the time outstanding on the bond. It also saves large amounts of interest when it is applied against the life of the bond. For example, if you have a bond of R1000 000 over a term of 20 years at a rate of 10percent interest and pay in an extra R10000 as a once-off payment, this will be enough to cut your repayment period by seven months. You will also save R60000 in interest costs over the life of the bond. Considering that payment of the bond would be R9650 a month and that the additional payment is just R350 above this, the benefits are enormous. * Invest in a fixed deposit. Investing bonus money in a fixed term account means that your money earns interest for a set period. The longer the period, the better the return. The initial bonus paid into a fixed deposit account can be withdrawn and reinvested. As it will have grown with interest the reinvestment amount will be larger. This will attract a higher interest rate. Eventually, the magic of compound interest will work for you and your money will grow significantly. * Make a one-off investment in a unit trust. Using spare money to buy into a unit trust means investing in selected shares on the stock exchange and the performance of major companies. This should be regarded as a longer-term investment and is ideal if you don't need money immediately. Errol Meyer is a legal specialist at Standard Bank Financial Consultancy. PERSONAL FINANCE 

KZN and Gauteng starting to drive national housing market
JOHANNESBURG - The  national housing market was undergoing a period of change in which Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal was replacing the Western Cape as the driver of the market. However, Pam Golding Property Group chief executive Andrew Golding stressed the Western Cape was still turning in an impressive performance. Golding said house price inflation in the Western Cape continued to slow to 9.5 percent in September but was still rising at double the rate as the rest of South Africa while  KwaZulu-Natals house price inflation was at 4.27 percent and Gauteng at 2.83 percent . He added that the areas of growth in the market were now also not necessarily the well-established high-end suburbs but currently the more affordable areas that were not out of reach of South Africas many less affluent buyers. Golding said the percentage of freehold property transactions had declined nationally from almost 90 percent of all sales in 2003 to 67 percent this year, with the percentage of sectional title property transaction increased from 18 percent of total transaction in 2003 to 22 percent this year.  Sectional title property transactions in KwaZulu-Natal accounted for between 16 percent and 20 percent of total transaction, with no discernible trend, he said. However, Golding said Amanzimtoti last year replaced Umhlanga as the most popular sectional title offering in KwaZulu-Natal, while residential estates were also becoming more popular in most towns across the province. Last year 78 percent of all transactions in Amanzimtoti were sectional title properties compared to 71 percent in 2003 while the percentage of sectional title properties in Umhlanga dropped to 61 percent of total sales last year from 78 percent in 2003. Golding said the average price of sectional title properties in KwaZulu-Natal was R940 485 this year, which represented an increase of 19.4 percent in the five years from 2013 and 58.5 percent appreciation in the past 10 years. By contrast, the average price of a sectional title property in the Western Cape was R1.53 million and R805 906 in Gauteng. The average price of sectional title properties in the Western Cape have increased by 56.3 percent in the past five years and by 87.03 percent in the past 10 years while those in Gauteng have risen by 11 percent in the past five years and 41.8 percent in the past 10 years. Golding said KwaZulu-Natal appeared to be marginally losing market share, with total unit sales in the province declining to 11 percent of total national unit sales this year from about 13 percent in 2010. However, Golding said coastal properties within 500 metres of the coastline continued to register a strengthening in house price inflation while the slowdown in non coastal house price inflation appeared to be bottoming out. Golding said data was only available for the first half of this year but coastal properties registered an average increase in price of 7.9 percent year-on-year compared to just 4.3 percent for non coastal properties.  He said residential estate sales rose from a low of 13 percent of total sales in late 2010 to a peak of 16.2 percent in August 2014 but since then slowed slightly faster than overall sales to a level of just over 15 percent early this year. It seems that in the current environment, estate sales are holding their own and are no longer accounting for a growing market share. It could perhaps reflect the growing preference for sectional title homes, he said. Golding added that KwaZulu-Natal was witnessing an influx of investors seeking property to let. He said Durban was a great buy-to-let market because acquisition costs were low enough to make yields and gearing attractive while Umhlanga was also popular because both yields and capital appreciation were strong. Turning to new developments, Golding said there was significant government spending planned in KwaZulu-Natal around the aerotropolis and a major exchange, which it was hoped would open up and revitalise the area, plus a new secure lifestyle precinct being developed in the Point area and private investment planned or underway in Umhlanga. Golding said Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban all had one thing in common in that each of these major metros had experienced burgeoning growth with the establishment of significant new nodes to the north of the cities, which was a trend that continued to gather momentum. In KwaZulu-Natal, the rapidly expanding North Coast region in close proximity to King Shaka International Airport, the proliferation of secure lifestyle estates, the North Coast areas from Umhlanga and Sibaya through to Ballito and Zimbali are increasingly in demand from home buyers from KwaZulu-Natal and other regions, he said.  BUSINESS REPORT 

Beyond mobile money - The FinTech future for Africa
JOHANNESBURG -  Africa is leveraging mobile and digital technologies in its own ways to bring financial services to people in some of the most isolated and undeveloped places on earth.  Africa is a great testing ground for new banking services: the regions relatively low penetration levels for traditional financial services married to high proliferation of mobile phones has not only helped to create the largest mobile money market, but also drives FinTech innovation and disruptive digital banking solutions.  Mobile money has found its biggest global foothold in Africa. According to the GSM Association, over 57 percent of the worlds mobile money accounts are located in sub-Saharan Africa, and the continents FinTech market has been forecast to grow from around $200m in value in 2018 to close to $3 billion by 2020. According to the McKinsey research report African Retail Bankings Next Growth Frontier, new innovative mobile financial services are rapidly expanding. Peer-2-peer borrowing, group-savings, micro-loans, micro-insurance and more will come into the financial services mix. South Africa alone can expect to see growth of around $4 billion in banking revenues across the next five years. Why is this? Most African citizens have a cellphone even if they lack a postal address and a local high street bank branch, and over the last decade have been using their mobile phones to transfer money.   The mobile money phenomenon has proven to be a profitable business in Africa: hundreds of millions of dollars is washing through Africas mobile networks. And it is mobile service providers that have been dominating the market, setting up quickly, disrupting the status quo, bringing banking to the unbanked and reaping the rewards of 1.5 to 2 percent profit big numbers. Traditional banks are keen to get in on the act but are finding it isnt straightforward as they are lacking the channel reach into the rural areas, dont have the IT platforms to support the financial requirements of the unbanked population, and are tied up with regulatory constraints.  Banks have been missing out, but due to a number of developments this could be changing soon.  Fiskl, a UK-based fintech company, has announced a partnership with South African based fintech player, Ocean on 76 that will benefit SMEs in Africa. Photo: Facebook We see that traditional feature phones are being replaced by cheap smart phones, driving adoption of new and innovative mobile financial applications that are being offered by the new FinTech players in the market.  Furthermore, fast growing FinTech players are making their mark. Jumo, a mobile platform that provides digital financial services like credit and savings has now originated over $700 million in loans and manages over 25 million customer interactions per month. In 2017 Jumo was picked as one of Googles Launchpad Accelerator start-ups and the company is now being funded by Goldman Sachs to continue its rapid expansion. Tulaa, a Kenyan FinTech start-up for the agriculture industry, recently raised over $600,000 in seed funding. Other success stories abound: Ecocash has been around for about 4 years providing mobile payments, Zoona is a mobile money transfer service that raised over $20 million in funding, and Cellulant, a pan-African payments system recently raised a massive $47.5 million, the most ever by an African FinTech.  These FinTech companies are disrupting traditional ways of doing things in Africa and becoming key players in a changing financial ecosystem. Increasingly traditional retail banks are looking to integrate their banking services with these innovative FinTech companies to cover the last mile in order to expand their footprint into the unbanked markets. Wildcards playing a role too On top of the FinTech start-ups thriving in Africa, there are a number of spin-off services from existing social media giants that are making their presence felt. WhatsApp, already Africas social media platform of choice, has the potential to be the continents biggest payments platform. WhatsApps digital banking offering could effectively create a single, cashless currency for Africa. 2017 saw social media use grow 12 percent in Africa, with the vast majority of people using only two apps, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Similarly, Chinese giant Alibabas FinTech arm, Ant Financial, is gaining traction in various African countries, and its Alipay app could also make significant inroads. Large African retail banks would do wise to craft partnership deals with these FinTech players as well as social media companies, leveraging their existing banking licenses and pan-African market-reach to gain first-hand experiences of banking the ecosystem. Changing times, changing business models With growing customer expectations about more and faster mobile bandwidth to support the FinTech applications, and especially the fast-growing social media usage, over the coming years mobile operators will need significant amounts of capex to support the evolution of network technologies, mostly from 2G to 3G, from the cities into the urban areas. All this has prompted mobile operators to take notice and change their business models accordingly. To ensure profitability and high margins the mobile operators will need to invest in new digital banking platforms as well as in-house product management capabilities in order to compete with the FinTech players who offer mobile micro-payments and micro-insurance. Financial inclusion in Africa, according to the World Bank Findex survey, has increased dramatically from 23 percent in 2011 to 43 percent in 2017. Already a number of mobile operators are considering obtaining banking licenses to accelerate their digital banking strategies for Africa. Beyond mobile payments and into the future We are seeing a paradigm shift in Africa from the first phase focused on mobile money, onto the next stage of digital mobile financial services on the continent that focuses on micro-loans, micro-insurance, savings management and more - all enabled by digital technology.  FinTech is the way forward for Africa but success will mean embracing open banking and sharing more information with ecosystem partners. Furthermore, regulators will need to be involved in transforming financial services, historically something that has presented challenges in the past.  FinTech is forcing a change in mentality in Africas approach to financial services, and banks that do not want to get left behind are being forced to change their philosophy because mobile operators have proven to be formidable adversaries in offering mobile financial services to the African market. Africa is leveraging mobile and digital technologies in its own ways to bring financial services to people in some of the most isolated and undeveloped places on earth. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg Africas mobile financial services future will be all about a new generation of banking services, new business models and a new revenue mix by new types of provider. Incumbent banks and new disruptive entrants can harness new revenue streams by leveraging agile FinTech solutions and thinking progressively with the customer experience more than ever being king.  Pieter Zylstra is a regional director, Digital Transformation, MEA, at Orange Business Services BUSINESS REPORT 

Kali's view: What have they done to the SABC?
JOHANNESBURG - Any public broadcaster has a duty to the nation. Under the stewardship of its chief executive, the late Zwelakhi Sisulu and his team, a little more than two decades ago, the SABC was a national asset and a very different entity.  I was a proud member of his team then and considered it a privilege to play a role in the transformation of the SABC.  We were passionate about its transformation and we unerringly steered it towards providing programming to showcase undiscovered talent and provide opportunities for producers and presenters who were previously shut out from its platforms.  Simunye, We are One - was loud and proud and saw the newly named SABC 1 mint revenues with quality, internationally acclaimed, award winning programmes. Simunye became a unifying household jingle of the newly born rainbow nation.  The SABC was cash flush , innovative , creative because producers knew that they had to produce revenue generating programmes for the channel or their contracts were not renewed.  Not the mindless endless drivel we see today that owes its existence to some influential politico.  We were not afraid to take tough decisions nor from being accountable and we understood the need of our viewers, disrupting ad dismantling the status quo that left the loyalist viewers of the previous regime uncomfortable. The SABCs people were highly skilled, sought after and even its new executives were taken through an intensive training programme that taught us the different facets of broadcasting from directing to producing a documentary. It  was the golden age of broadcasting and the SABC stood tall among its peers. That was way back in 1996.  Today, the SABC has been bludgeoned into the ground. The talent had long gone but for a few passionate producers and certain hubs of excellence and the unpleasant chaos, insecurity and dismal undertones that run through its once proud corridors has left the nation bereft of a national icon.  The pathological behaviour and unscrupulous actions of  those at the helm who are responsible in bringing the SABC to its knees must be held accountable. The recent news of the proposed purging of 981 permanent employees is a sad consequence of the scurrilous shenanigans over the years that saw  talented staff being replaced by unskilled untrained cadres and cronies who were clueless of the duty they had to the nation. But all is not lost, instead of perversely defending itself, the public broadcaster and its executive could realise that this could be a period of awakening for the SABC to compensate for its terrible devastation. Always in times of crisis and more especially in times of immense transition, dramatic decisions and courage is needed to herald change.   Change that was implemented two decades ago had impacted the lives of many and made an indelible difference in the lives of young people and the millions who are influenced by what they see on television. Young presenters and producers alike, who are giants in the industry today, were given an opportunity and cut their first creative tooth at the public broadcaster.   People like Robert Marawa, Nimrod Nkosi, Carol Bauer, Arthur, Zama Nkosi and a host of others including Devi Sankaree Govender who presented an investigative programme or Eastern Mosaic before she was discovered by Carte Blanche.  The SABC of yesteryear had made an enduring difference in society and in the lives of young and old alike. That is the role of the public broadcaster and its duty to the nation. What have they done to it!  Brenda Kali is the CEO of Conscious Companies and the Founder of the Conscious Leadership Academy. She was Programme Head of SABC 1, 20 years ago and left the SABC after a personal tragedy. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media. BUSINESS REPORT 

New Maputo Bridge opens up a whole range of opportunities
DURBAN - Imagine if you could get from Durban to Johannesburg in a little over an hour, what a range of opportunities that would provide for a whole host of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) businesses? That is possible by the year 2030 if a high-speed rail link is built between the two centres, but in 2018 an equally exciting prospect is the opening of the Maputo-Catembe Bridge that has cut the travel time between Maputo and the South African border post at Kosi Bay from six hours to 90 minutes. At present most of South Africas exports to Mozambique, and in some cases even further as the Maputo port is used as an export port for South African products such as coal and magnetite, is either transported by road or rail via Komati Poort. The problem is however that the Lebombo border post only operates from 06h00 to midnight normally even though during the Christmas and Easter holiday times it is a 24-hour operation like the Beit Bridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Only the bureaucrats know why Lebombo is not a One Stop Border Post as the physical infrastructure in terms of offices has been in place for several years already. The result is that the road to Maputo gets clogged up every morning and what should take you only 90 minutes becomes a five hour endurance test. The border post at Kosi Bay is open seven days a week from 08h00 to 17h00, but that may change if traffic picks up significantly, which is what should happen. Agbiz economist Wandile Sihlobo is excited about the prospects as the previous long time for transit and poor road conditions made it uneconomic for farm exports from KZN via Kosi Bay to Mozambique, but that has now changed as the road has been upgraded and pot holes filled in. The leading agricultural exports by value to Mozambique are beverages and spirits, dairy products, meat, sugar and edible products to a total value in 2017 just short of US$3 billion or some R40 billion. An improvement in the transport system to Mozambique could, over time, have positive spin offs to these products given that they are perishable and need to move fast on the cold chain, Sihlobo said. Apart from farm exports, there is the potential for increased two-way tourism as tourists from Mozambique travel to Durban and tourists from South Africa visit Punto de Oro and Maputo.  Chinas CSR Corporation said at the 2012 Rail Africa exhibition and conference that high speed rail links could shrink travel times dramatically opening up vast opportunities.  This means that like commuters between London and northern France, who can enjoy the beach in the evenings after a tough day at the trading desk of a financial institution, South Africans could work in Guateng and live in KZN, reversing the long-established migration pattern of people leaving the coastal province to live in the inland province. The current CRH380A, which is designed to operate at 380 kilometres an hour (km/h), has already achieved a speed of 416.6 km/h on the Shanghai-Hangzhou Intercity High Speed Railway, while a next generation CSR prototype has already achieved 500 km/h in test runs. The SA Department of Transport has proposed a high-speed rail service linking Johannesburg and Durban in line with other countries such as China, France, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, and the UK. The world speed record for conventional high-speed rail is held by the V150, a special version of Frances TGV which reached 574.8 km/h on a test run. The world speed record for magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains is held by the Japanese experimental MLX01 at 581 km/h.  High speed rail travel was pioneered in Japan. Just as in South Africa, one of the spurs was the hosting of an international sports event. In Japans case it was the Tokyo 1964 Olympics, while in South Africa the Gautrain was launched ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. In October 1964 the Shinkansen, known as the Bullet Train in English, started operating between Tokyo and Osaka, a distance of 515 km, which is just more than the distance (as the crow flies) between Johannesburg and Durban. Not one single passenger has been killed in derailments or collisions, even though the Shinkansen has transported more than the worlds current population of 7 billion in the past 54 years. BUSINESS REPORT 

Fin24.com | Numsa's Irvin Jim: IPPs will cripple Eskom, destroy almost 100 000 jobs
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa says the "disastrous" Independent Power Producers programme to be implemented by power utility Eskom could cost the country thousands of jobs.

Sport24.co.za | Rassie credits growing maturity for Bok win over Scots
Rassie Erasmus praised the Springboks growing maturity following their hard-fought 26-20 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield .

Bunchy Top Virus puts SA's R1.9bn banana industry at risk
JOHANNESBURG -  South Africas R1.9 billion a year banana growing and export industry, which employs more than 100 000 people, is at risk following the discovery of Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) in Kwazulu-Natals Ugu District. Subsistence farmers are to be hit the hardest  with their livelihoods at risk. These farmers are too financially stretched out to afford the necessary chemicals to treat the aphid. A bunch of bananas sold here and another bartered for a favour makes all the difference in a hard life.  I am not saying they will not feel it, but commercial farmers are likely to pull together and find a solution. But the most hard hit guys will be the small farmers for whom the crop is a means of regular livelihood, those are the guys who need all the help, commercial farmer Blaine Peckham said.  BBTV gets its name from the bunchy appearance of infected plants. It can be transmitted through banana aphids, Pentalonia nigronervosa and through infected banana planting material.  The disease has already wiped out a 160 ha commercial farm on which the outbreak was first identified after the farmer had to uproot and destroy every single plant to curb spread of the virus. Consequently, banana plants in the rural households surrounding the affected area are also under pressure.  Dot-dash symtoms on leaves The small scale- and subsistence farmers in the region are the ones mostly affected because they dont have the means to buy the insecticide and herbicide to treat infected plants. Funding from the government is needed to ensure that these farmers will be able to protect their banana crops, Peckham said. He said commercial farmers in the region were contributing towards chemicals to help the farmers in the rural communities. In the UGU region of KwaZulu-Natal, an estimated 175 000 households reside and if 25 percent  of the households grow eight banana plants each that get infected, it can cause losses of up to R17.5 million  income for the region, Peckham observed. The Agricultural Reseach Council (ARC), together with the Department of Food and Fisheries and the Banana farming community,  say that if left uncontrolled the virus could spread to other banana growing parts of the country, with dire consequences for the industry and the South African economy.  Any further spread of the virus could devastate the banana industry, currently valued at R1.9 billion with more than 100 000 jobs,ARC spokesperson Mpho Ramosili said. Prior to the identification of BBTV in South Africa, the virus was first detected in neighbouring Zambia and Mozambique. Banana aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa, in base of plant Spread of the disease is through the banana aphid as well as propagation material. If proper control measures for the banana aphid are in place and people from informal markets are aware of the danger of selling planting material, the spread of the disease can be slowed down.  Currently, the disease is restricted to the Southern KZN region and ongoing surveys are conducted to monitor the spread in this region. The ARC is also conducting surveys in other banana growing regions and to date no other outbreaks have been reported. Early detection of further infections is crucial to prevent crop losses. Control measures for the disease include farmers scouting for banana plants with symptoms on plantations, removal of infected plants and control of the banana aphids. Teams comprised of the ARC in partnership with government, led by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and farmers (commercial and smallholder) are working to curb the spread of the disease to other regions. Advanced BBTV symptoms- plant stay stunted. Image: Supplied. ARC chief executive Dr Shadrack Moephuli said, The ARC is hard at work jointly with the DAFF to combat the spread of the virus threatening banana productions for both commercial and smallholder farmers.  We are carrying out surveys in collaboration with DAFF around Komatipoort and Kiepersol. These surveys will be extended to other banana growing regions of South Africa. The ARC is also closely monitoring the situation in KwaZulu-Natal to determine the spread of the disease.  Systematic surveys are conducted in the rural areas by ARC and DAFF, moving from household to household to inspect plants. When infected plants are detected, a removal order is given to the household by a DAFF official and plants are treated with an insecticide and killed with a herbicide. The plants are then removed when dead. People are educated not to plant banana on the same position for six months to eliminate the chance of spread. An Infected BBTV plant. Image: Supplied. Banana bunchy top disease is the most serious virus disease of banana worldwide.[4] Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted. Dark green streaky symptoms on stem of plant. BUSINESS REPORT 

PHOTOS: Bunchy Top Virus puts SA's R1.9bn banana industry at risk
JOHANNESBURG   South Africas R1.9 billion a year banana growing and export industry, which employs more than 100 000 people, is at risk following the discovery of Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) in Kwazulu-Natals Ugu District. Subsistence farmers are to be hit the hardest with their livelihoods at risk. These farmers are too financially stretched out to afford the necessary chemicals to treat the aphid. A bunch of bananas sold here and another bartered for a favour makes all the difference in a hard life.  I am not saying they will not feel it, but commercial farmers are likely to pull together and find a solution. But the most hard-hit guys will be the small farmers for whom the crop is a means of regular livelihood, those are the guys who need all the help, commercial farmer Blaine Peckham said. BBTV gets its name from the bunchy appearance of infected plants. It can be transmitted through banana aphids, Pentalonia nigronervosa and through infected banana planting material.  The disease has already wiped out a 160 ha commercial farm on which the outbreak was first identified after the farmer had to uproot and destroy every single plant to curb spread of the virus. Consequently, banana plants in the rural households surrounding the affected area are also under pressure.  Dot-dash symtoms on leaves The small scale- and subsistence farmers in the region are the ones mostly affected because they dont have the means to buy the insecticide and herbicide to treat infected plants. Funding from the government is needed to ensure that these farmers will be able to protect their banana crops, Peckham said. He said commercial farmers in the region were contributing towards chemicals to help the farmers in the rural communities. In the UGU region of KwaZulu-Natal, an estimated 175 000 households reside and if 25 percent  of the households grow eight banana plants each that get infected, it can cause losses of up to R17.5 million  income for the region, Peckham observed. The Agricultural Reseach Council (ARC), together with the Department of Food and Fisheries and the Banana farming community,  say that if left uncontrolled the virus could spread to other banana growing parts of the country, with dire consequences for the industry and the South African economy.  Any further spread of the virus could devastate the banana industry, currently valued at R1.9 billion with more than 100 000 jobs,ARC spokesperson Mpho Ramosili said. Prior to the identification of BBTV in South Africa, the virus was first detected in neighbouring Zambia and Mozambique. Banana aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa, in base of plant Spread of the disease is through the banana aphid as well as propagation material. If proper control measures for the banana aphid are in place and people from informal markets are aware of the danger of selling planting material, the spread of the disease can be slowed down.  Currently, the disease is restricted to the Southern KZN region and ongoing surveys are conducted to monitor the spread in this region. The ARC is also conducting surveys in other banana growing regions and to date no other outbreaks have been reported. Early detection of further infections is crucial to prevent crop losses. Control measures for the disease include farmers scouting for banana plants with symptoms on plantations, removal of infected plants and control of the banana aphids. Teams comprised of the ARC in partnership with government, led by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and farmers (commercial and smallholder) are working to curb the spread of the disease to other regions. Advanced BBTV symptoms- plant stay stunted. Image: Supplied. ARC chief executive Dr Shadrack Moephuli said, The ARC is hard at work jointly with the DAFF to combat the spread of the virus threatening banana productions for both commercial and smallholder farmers.  We are carrying out surveys in collaboration with DAFF around Komatipoort and Kiepersol. These surveys will be extended to other banana growing regions of South Africa. The ARC is also closely monitoring the situation in KwaZulu-Natal to determine the spread of the disease.  Systematic surveys are conducted in the rural areas by ARC and DAFF, moving from household to household to inspect plants. When infected plants are detected, a removal order is given to the household by a DAFF official and plants are treated with an insecticide and killed with a herbicide. The plants are then removed when dead. People are educated not to plant banana on the same position for six months to eliminate the chance of spread. An Infected BBTV plant. Image: Supplied. Banana bunchy top disease is the most serious virus disease of banana worldwide.[4] Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted. Dark green streaky symptoms on stem of plant. BUSINESS REPORT