African governments should have a fresh relook at agriculture, which involves embracing technology (information technology, mechanical and biotechnology) and also private-sector partnerships. There needs to be also confidence in the citizenry to manage their land parcels. This will involve the granting of tradable long-term leases in various African countries.
The drive I take each December from Pretoria to the Eastern Cape is a constant reminder, not only of the agricultural economic potential of the Eastern Cape, but also the poverty and unemployment that plague the province. Agriculture holds potential to change the fortunes of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo and other rural regions.
These past few days, I drove across the eastern regions of South Africa, observing the summer grains and oilseeds from a distance. It is beautiful and uplifting scenery out there in the fields – green and lush. The past few months’ rains have ensured that farmers complete planting on time and further provided conducive growing conditions for crops. The grazing veld has also benefited along with other agricultural subsectors such as the horticulture and wildlife industries.
This favourable weather forecast and rains already received continue to give us optimism that South Africa’s agricultural gross value added will register positive growth in 2021 (although the growth numbers are unlikely to be double digits as in 2020, in part, because of base effects).
2020 has been an eventful year, yet with broadly positive results for agriculture — with the exception of the wine and tobacco industries. I look to 2021 with hope for yet another strong performance for agriculture, underpinned by a favourable production season, though the growth numbers are unlikely to be double digits in part because of base effects.