Food inflation has been topical over the past few months and South Africa saw double-digit levels from mid-2022 to mid-2023. This was not unique to South Africa but a global phenomenon underpinned by various factors, including drought in South America; China’s strong demand for grains and oilseed; higher energy prices and the Russia-Ukraine war.
South Africa has had a number of outbreaks of animal diseases in recent months that suggest there are weaknesses in the country’s biosecurity system – the measures in place to reduce the risk of infectious diseases being transmitted to crops, livestock and poultry. The outbreaks pose a major challenge for South Africa’s domestic animal farming sector.
The solid production conditions in South Africa’s agricultural sector continue to be reflected in the employment data. The Quarterly Labour Force Survey data released last week by Statistics South Africa showed that in the third quarter of 2023, about 956 000 people were employed in primary agriculture, up 10% year-on-year (and 7% quarter-on-quarter).
International trade is at the heart of SA’s agricultural success. For this reason any disruptive legislative and logistical constraints to exports constrain the sector’s growth and are cause for concern. Equally, the differences in the interpretation of export-related legislation by industry leaders versus regulators could have adverse effects on the sector or dent sentiment.
The weather prospects continue to paint an encouraging picture of the 2023/24 summer crop season and the farmers will probably respond by expanding their planting areas.
In 2022 SA ranked 59th out of 113 countries in the index and was the most food secure country in Sub-Saharan Africa. This was an improvement from a ranking of 70th in 2021. We ranked the second most food-secure country in Africa after Morocco.