Despite a decline in agricultural production as a percentage of GDP in the past decade, agriculture remains a key component of South Africa’s economy and one of the country’s largest employers. In 2013 the sector as a whole contributed $5.48bn to GDP, on the back of primary annual agricultural production of $17.78bn. Agricultural production by volume rose by 2.7% in 2013. This can be attributed to a 4% increase in poultry meat, and a similar rise in goat and sheep mutton, pork and beef production; a 2.3% rise in field crop production, including sorghum, soya beans, sunflower seeds, dry beans and sugar cane; and a 0.6% increase in horticultural production, including citrus and deciduous fruit. Under the National Development Plan the government aims to create almost 1m new jobs in agriculture by 2030, primarily by expanding irrigation on arable land. South African farmers and other agriculture players also face high input costs, complex and shifting land reform regulations, labour unrest, dilapidated infrastructure and increasing competition from elsewhere. However, many local players are looking forward to continued expansion.
This chapter contains an interview with Chris Venter, CEO, AFGRI.