Agriculture sector exported products worth R60bn in second quarter

The agriculture sector has shown improvement as it grew by 4.2% in the second quarter of 2023. The industry proved to be one of the biggest contributors to the country’s economic growth, highlighting the important role played by the sector towards building the economy of South Africa.

The growth in agriculture was largely fuelled by a good summer harvest of grain, and oil seeds commodities coupled with solid horticultural exports.
The country exported agricultural products worth R60.2-billion in the second quarter of 2023, which is almost 13% higher than the corresponding period last year.

The country is expected to harvest 16.4-million tons of maize and about 743 000 tons of sunflower, a crop size that will bode well for consumers, as food inflation will subside. Sunday World understands that in July, food inflation receded to 9.9%.
Based on these developments Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

Thoko Didiza spoke to Sunday World on Friday, saying the positive agricultural growth recorded in the second quarter of 2023 reflected a conducive policy environment and interventions implemented by the department and industry in the sector.

“The growth means the sector is creating sustainable jobs, assisting to moderate food price hikes, and contributing to the recovery of the country’s economy. To maintain the growth momentum, the sector should continue its efforts to open new exports markets and equally maintain relations with existing markets.

“Some of the interventions being implemented under the master plan range from accelerating the redistribution of land, making finance affordable and accessible for all farmers, skilling of farmers in smallholder and subsistence farming, and building enabling rural and agricultural infrastructure, among others,” said Didiza.

She said she welcomed the latest figures released by Statistics South Africa on the gross domestic product for the second quarter of this year.

“The growth in agriculture and its contribution to the country’s economy can be attributed to the increasing footprint of South Africa’s agricultural products on the international markets. This is underscored by the government’s decisions to invest resources in opening new export markets while maintaining trade relations with existing markets,” the minister said.

Last month, Didiza secured new export markets for avocados, beef and other animal products to countries such as Saudi Arabia and China.

Author and chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, Wandile Sihlobo said: “After a sharp contraction of -11.9% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of 2023, South Africa’s agricultural gross value added grew by 4.2% in the second quarter.

“This improvement is based on the robust production conditions of various field crops and horticulture, which weren’t reflected in the first quarter data because of a delayed start to the 2022/23 production season.”

He said interventions to ease the loadshedding burden, such as load curtailment, expansion of the diesel rebate to the food value chain, and most private sector investment in alternative energy sources, all supported production conditions.

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