South Africa’s informal farming sector is contributing far more to the economy and food security than is officially being recognised. More should be done to develop this sector, and to intensify farming endeavours. On the commercial side, policy issues and infrastructure problems, such as electricity supply, rising input costs and backlogs at export ports, are major obstacles in the way of sustained growth within the South African farming sector. It is also driving up inflation in terms of commodity prices.
These were among some of the messages from guest speaker Prof Ferdi Meyer, managing director for the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), at the recent Food Dialogue session presented by the Southern Africa Food Lab, an initiative of the Faculty of AgriSciences at Stellenbosch University (SU)
Prof Meyer is a specialist in agricultural market, trade and policy analyses, value chain analytics, strategic fore sighting, and scenario planning. He was recently appointed as an extraordinary professor in the SU Department of Agricultural Economics.
By way of introduction, Prof Meyer noted that according to recent World Bank simulations, the Covid-19 pandemic has set the global economy back by 5 years.
The pandemic would therefore likely have a severe impact on any inroads made over recent years to reduce poverty in South Africa – from 29% of the population living in extreme hunger in 2002 to only 11% in 2019.
“Agriculture has been a ‘shining light’ during this period. BFAP forecasts a 13% increase in economic activity for the sector locally.”
Out of 10 economic sectors, it is the only one other than the government sector to show any industry growth since 2019.
The consistent increase in fresh fruit volumes (especially citrus) being produced is a credit to the local agricultural sector. The industry could lose out on the multi-million rand investments made into new orchards if the dire state of South African ports and other infrastructure issues are not addressed.The full article is for subscribed members only. To view the full article please subscribe. It’s FREE!Log In Register
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