Today, the Agrekon Journal, a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal, published my article — a response to a critique of the Presidential Advisory Panel report on South Africa’s Land Reform and Agriculture. I was a member of the Panel.
Despite a vibrant agricultural sector, there are a standard list of challenges that South African agribusinesses commonly cite – land reform policy, droughts and infrastructure are amongst the most frequently cited. However, a growing challenge facing firms – particularly those in beef, wool, fruit and wine – is the need to identify new markets.
Agriculture is one of the sectors in which the South African government aims to increase the participation of black people, and also to ensure that farming of all kinds will assist to revitalise the rural economy and create jobs.
South African agricultural stakeholders want to increase exports to BRIC(S) countries. This message came sharply in a hybrid event the Agricultural Business Chamber of SA (Agbiz) had with its members, commodity organizations and government representatives on March 19.
South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee mildly lifted its forecast for 2020/21 summer grain and oilseeds production from last month by 1% to 18,7 million tonnes (this compared with 17,6 million tonnes in 2019/20 production season).
Most food-insecure SA provinces have vast tracts of underutilised land, which could be a priority for agricultural expansion
Most food-insecure provinces also have vast tracts of underutilised land. These provinces should be a priority in the agriculture and agro-processing master plan. With a commercial focus where conditions permit, agriculture improvement would help job creation and, ultimately, household food security.
Over the past two decades, South Africa’s agricultural output growth and rise in trade surpluses have been inspiring, and these successes give me much enthusiasm and optimism. In 2020 alone, amidst a pandemic, South Africa exported US$10,2 billion worth of agricultural products, the second largest on record. One market that has consistently been important to South Africa is the African continent, which on average, accounts for 40% of South Africa’s agricultural exports.
The Beneficiary Selection Criteria for land reform that were first suggested by the Presidential Advisory Panel on land reform is a first step in ensuring gender diversity. The policy proposes that the government should have a bias towards women and youth in its land reform process. In the 700 000 hectares of land that the government is in the process of releasing, we will be able to judge if women and youth are genuinely prioritized.