WORLDVIEW: Could farmers save the SA economy?

For several years, I used to head out to Cape Town every March to hear Trevor Manuel, and later Pravin Gordhan, present the annual budget. Every year, a reporter would ask why South Africa spends less than 2% of its budget on agriculture when the Maputo Declaration set a target of 10% for African states. And every year the minister would say the same thing: South Africa is a relatively large, services-based economy, and the agriculture sector couldn’t handle that much money, nor was it needed.

This is true, in a sense. Agriculture only contributes around 2% of SA’s GDP. But, and this is a major but, it accounts for about 5% of employment. Agriculture is labour-intensive, especially in places with low wages like SA, and that means it has major potential to create jobs. My colleague Chris Bateman, recently spoke with AgriSA to try and understand what’s happening in the sector, and what the outlook is like.

Writes Chris: “Bumping along a thorn-tree lined-road on a Tugela River bank ...

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