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06 March 2020 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Stephen Collett
Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank
Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, presented a public lecture at the UFS on 4 March 2020.

With a 7% fiscal deficit on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projected by the National Treasury for the 2020/21 financial year, it would not take long to arrive at a dangerous level of debt at the rate that South Africa is borrowing. Although the South African Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, does not consider a debt to GDP rate of 60% a disaster, he did express his concern regarding the country’s fiscal deficits being over 6% of the GDP.

Governor Kganyago presented a public lecture at the University of the Free State (UFS) on 4 March 2020, focusing on how we should use macro-economic policy and its role in our economic growth problem.

Unsustainable policies 
South Africa’s fiscal situation is not about tight monetary policy. According to the Governor: “Weak growth is endogenous in our fiscal problems. We cannot keep doing what we are doing and hope that growth will recover and save us. Growth is low, in large part, because of unsustainable policy.”

Avoiding an impending crisis
To address the problem, as a policymaker with more than 20 years’ experience, the Governor suggested that the recommendations made by Minister Tito Mboweni be taken into consideration. “The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, is a man who says things that are true even when they are unpopular. His message is that we have to reduce spending and he is right to put this at the centre of our macro-economic debate,” said Governor Kganyago.

The state needs a radical economic turnaround strategy which is able to diminish the risk of losing market access and being forced to ask the International Monetary Fund for help. Governor Kganyago is positive that such a reformative tactic would go beyond monetary policy and ensure that the interest bill ceases to claim more of South Africa’s scarce resources. 

News Archive

Plant eco-physiologist finds effective solutions for crop optimisation
2016-07-24

Description: Orange trees Tags: Orange trees

The bio-stimulant was tested on
this citrus. This is the first time
that the product has been tested
on a crop.

In a time characterised by society facing increasing population growth, food crises, and extreme climatic conditions such as drought, it is essential for farmers to integrate science with their work practices in order to optimise crops.

Role of photosynthesis and plant sap data

By knowing how to use photosynthesis and plant sap data for determining plant health, fast and effective solutions could be established for the optimisation of crops. This technique, which could help farmers utilise every bit of usable land effectively, is the focus of Marguerite Westcott’s PhD study. She is a junior lecturer and plant eco-physiologist in die Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State.

Westcott uses this technique in her studies to prove that a newly-developed bio-stimulant stimulates plants in order to metabolise water and other nutrients better, yielding increased crops as a result.

Agricultural and mining sectors benefit from research

The greatest part of these projects focuses on the agricultural sector. Westcott and a colleague, Dr Gert Marais, are researching the physiology of pecan and citrus trees in order to optimise the growth of these crops, thus minimising disease through biological methods. Field trials are being conducted in actively-producing orchards in the Hartswater and Patensie areas in conjunction with the South African Pecan Nut Producers Association (SAPPA) amongst others.
 
The principles that Westcott applies in her research are also used in combination with the bio-stimulant in other studies on disturbed soil, such as mine-dump material, for establishing plants in areas where they would not grow normally. This is an economical way for both the agricultural and mining sectors to improve nutrient absorption, stimulate growth, and contribute to the sustainable utilisation of the soil.

Description: Pecan nut orchards  Tags: Pecan nut orchards

The bio-stimulant contributes to the immunity of the plants.
It was tested in these pecan nut orchards (Hartswater).

Soil rehabilitation key aspect in research projects

“One of two things is happening in my research projects. Either the soil is rehabilitated to bring about the optimal growth of a plant, or the plants are used to rehabilitate the soil,” says Westcott.

Data surveys for her PhD studies began in 2015. “This will be a long-term project in which seasonal data will be collected continuously. The first set of complete field data, together with pot trial data, will be completed after the current crop harvest,” says Westcott.

 

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