South Africa’s commercial agriculture myths pollute real policy solutions

South Africa’s commercial agriculture myths pollute real policy solutions

The consolidation has allowed farmers to take advantage of economies of scale as they compete with global players in the agricultural and food markets. For this reason, the misleading statement is often made that the number of SA “farmers” is declining. In fact, it is not necessarily the number of farmers, but the number of farming units, that has been reduced through consolidation. Even so, there are still many small family farms that sustain the food system in rural SA.

Tractor sales, rainfall forecasts point to bumper summer crops for South Africa in the 2021/22 season

Tractor sales, rainfall forecasts point to bumper summer crops for South Africa in the 2021/22 season

The weather conditions in the build-up to the 2021/2022 summer season continue to paint a constructive picture for agriculture. Last month, the SA Weather Service hinted at another La Niña season, albeit somewhat weaker than in the 2020/2021 summer season. Such a favourable weather forecast means there is likely to be above average rainfall over most regions of SA. Global weather forecasters such as the International Research Institute for Climate and Society echo the SA Weather Service’s prediction. Importantly, from September 2021 to January 2022 the probability of La Niña is more than 50%.

Reflections on South Africa’s 2021/22 winter crop production prospects

Reflections on South Africa’s 2021/22 winter crop production prospects

South African farmers also responded positively to the good rains through increasing area plantings. For example, the recently released data show that wheat, canola, and oats plantings are up by 2% (to 521 500 hectares), 35% (to 100 000 hectares) and 34% (to 35 150 hectares) y/y, respectively. For wheat, the area planted is roughly in line with the 11-year average, while for canola and oats, current planting is the largest on record.

South African leaders have missed a chance to transform rural economies

South African leaders have missed a chance to transform rural economies

Expanding irrigation infrastructure, commercialising underutilised communal and reformed land (through the provision of tradable land rights), and targeted support to agricultural subsectors and regions with growth potential could all have transformed the rural economy of the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. While this may seem obvious, unfortunately, those in leadership have failed to pursue this route.

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