Essay by Prof Johann Kirsten and Wandile Sihlobo
Chapter six of the National Development Plan (NDP) sets out the parameters for an integrated and inclusive rural economy. It opens with: “By 2030, SA’s rural communities should have greater opportunities to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the country. People should be able to access decent basic services that enable them to be well-nourished, healthy and increasingly skilled. Rural economies will be supported by agriculture and, where possible, by mining, tourism, agroprocessing and fisheries.”
Agricultural expansion, more agroprocessing, job creation and land reform are central to growing rural economies. It rests on goals such as promoting irrigated agriculture and high-value and labour-intensive industries; bringing unproductive land in former homelands and underutilised land reform farms into production; increasing productivity; and expanding access to new export markets.
It needs to encourage inclusivity by extending these activities to former homeland areas. Redistributing 30% of commercial farmland formerly under white ownership is another important goal.
Good quality and regularly reported data is vital to measure if we are reaching these targets. We report here on indicators for which long-term series of good quality data is available from official resources.
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