I recently joined CNN in a feature covering South Africa’s blueberries industry.
The export-led strategy underpinning SA’s trade policy entails a deliberate effort to get the country’s agriculture and other industrial sectors to export products beyond existing international markets. There are at least two diametrically opposing views about how well SA has done in executing this strategy in agriculture.
South Africa’s consumer food price inflation continues to surprise on the upside. We thought the start of the second half of the year would moderate the increase we observed in the past few months. But the data released by Statistics South Africa today show that consumer food price inflation accelerated to 7,4% y/y in August 2021 after registering 7,0% in the previous two months. This is the highest level since March 2017.
Governments can build credibility over time through consistent commitment to implementing policies efficiently and effectively. South Africa hasn’t done well on this score. As a result of the poor record of policy implementation, investors and the general public have become sceptical of government policy pronouncements.
The consolidation has allowed farmers to take advantage of economies of scale as they compete with global players in the agricultural and food markets. For this reason, the misleading statement is often made that the number of SA “farmers” is declining. In fact, it is not necessarily the number of farmers, but the number of farming units, that has been reduced through consolidation. Even so, there are still many small family farms that sustain the food system in rural SA.