SA Agriculture sector ends difficult year on a high
South Africa’s agricultural sector will end 2021 on a “positive note” following bumper harvests and increased exports.
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, said on Thursday that estimates from analysts suggest that South Africa might reach record exports of about R173 billion this year.
This would surpass 2020 agriculture exports of about R160 billion, which was the second-highest on record, and could even pass the record exports of 2018, which was R167 billion.
“The exports and markets are diversified, which speaks to the broad-based performance of the agricultural production and export markets,” Minister Didiza said.
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She said although South Africa country is challenged by higher unemployment in many sectors, agriculture is one of the sectors of the economy that assist with job opportunities.
“What is encouraging is that, in the third quarter of 2021, agricultural employment increased by 3% y/y to 829 000, which is well above the long-term agricultural employment of 780 000,” she said.
The role players in the sector are optimistic about business conditions in the country, as was demonstrated in the Agbiz/IDC Agribusiness Confidence Index’s results in the last quarter of the year, which, at 74, is the second-highest level since its inception in 2001.
The Minister said this time last year, the Department had successfully concluded lengthy negotiations with the Philippines while there was also improved market access for South African lemons to China.
“With local lemon production expected to grow by 175 000 metric tons by 2024, this protocol comes at an opportune time for South African farmers. We have, as recent as 13 December 2021, also signed a protocol with China on the export of pears.”
Minister Didiza said the Ministery will build on this optimism in the coming year, specifically with “our Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan, which has notched good progress after several rounds of negotiations and consultations among government, business, and labour.”