Despite challenges at the ports and in various export markets, the SA agricultural sector has continued to realise excellent export activity. Total agricultural exports reached a new record of $13.2bn in 2023, up 3% from the previous year.
I’m concerned about the Southern African region’s maize supplies in the 2023/24 production season. With Zambia, the second largest maize producer in the area, after South Africa declared a drought disaster, there will be increased pressure on South Africa to supply maize to the neighbouring countries.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strategic agricultural export market, and it is fitting that South Africa explores agricultural trade and investment possibilities. Over the past five years, Saudi Arabia imported, on average, about $20 billion of agricultural products.
The weather forecast for the week still paints a worrying picture of continuous dryness in much of South Africa. There will likely be scattered light showers over the eastern regions during the week, which won’t make much difference in the deteriorating crop conditions because of excessive heat in the various areas of our beautiful country.
South Africa’s consumer food inflation slowed to 7,0% in January 2024, from 8,5% in the previous month. This was underpinned by the deceleration across most food products, except for the sugar, sweets and desserts.
We expect this broad moderation path to continue in 2024 for most of the products within the food basket.
After a notable jump in the third quarter of 2023 to 956,000, South Africa’s primary agricultural employment fell by 4% quarter-on-quarter to 920,000 in the last quarter of 2023. Jobs declined mainly in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.