I recently joined Peter Bruce for a wide-ranging conversation about South Africa’s Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan and the ANC’s policy views on agriculture and land.
The data released by Statistics South Africa this past week showed that the country’s consumer food price inflation decelerated to 6,3% y/y in April 2022 from 6,6% y/y in the previous month. This is on the back of relatively softer price increases in meat; milk, eggs and cheese; and vegetables.
The book also brings home the reality of the slow progress of land reform in South Africa. In 1994 when the country became a democracy, white farmers owned 77.580 million hectares of farmland out of the total surface area of 122 million hectares.
The rising interest rates and various input costs imply that South African agriculture and agribusiness will, in the coming months, have to be focused on cost management even more than has been already been the case.
What to make of South Africa’s Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Budget Vote Speech and Master Plan Launch?
These are not perfect plans by any stretch but are better than no plans. Perhaps, the better way of viewing the documents is through the lens of “better is good”, which means having a policy document that is better than a current position is good, to an extent.
The world has been in a period of surging food prices for several reasons. These include drought in South America and Indonesia, rising demand for grains and oilseeds in China, and, more recently, the disruption of the global grains and oilseeds exports following the Russia-Ukraine war.
Rail and road network, water and electricity supply and the efficient functioning of municipalities need to be addressed to ensure South African agriculture’s sustainability.