South Africa / Agricultural Overview

South Africa / Agricultural Overview

Maize Farming South AfricaSouth African agricultural activities range from intensive crop production and mixed farming in winter rainfall and high summer rainfall areas, to cattle and sheep ranching in the more arid regions.

Maize is most widely grown, followed by soya beans, wheat, sunflower and sugarcane. It has a dual agricultural economy, with a well-developed commercial farming industry on the one hand, and on the other a combination of small scale, communal and subsistence farming.

Declining farming profitability and water scarcity has left South Africa with less than two-thirds of the number of farms it had in the early 1990s.

South Africa boasts around 40 000 commercial farming units which collectively contribute up to 12% of the country’s GDP if the entire value chain of agriculture is taken into account. The gross income from agricultural production is R215 billion per year – of this the poultry meat industry makes the largest contribution, R33 billion – followed by maize with R27 billion and red meat with R24 billion. (Euro 1 equals approximately R15).

Declining farming profitability and water scarcity has left South Africa with less than two-thirds of the number of farms it had in the early 1990s.

In many instances the lost farms have been changed to other land use, or consolidated into larger farming units to achieve effective economies of scale. Although the area under maize, wheat and dairy has decreased significantly over the last 20 years, production remains relatively constant, indicating an increasing trend in intensified production.

Apart from the shift to large-scale intensive farming, South Africa has also experienced a shift from low-value, high-volume products intended for domestic consumption, such as wheat and milk, to high-value products intended for export, such as deciduous fruit, citrus and game.

South Africa is well-known for the high quality of its deciduous fruit and citrus, over half of which is exported. The volume of these agricultural exports has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, generating foreign exchange and profits for local farmers.

Citrus Farming South Africa

Wine Farming South AfricaThe South African wine industry has gone from strength to strength, with exports having more than doubled between 2003 and 2013. Currently, more than 3 300 farmers cultivate some 99 500 hectares of land under vines.

Game ranching is the fastest-growing branch of agriculture in South Africa with more than 20 million head of game in the country. The total area covered by these privately owned ranches now exceeds that of all national parks and provincial nature reserves combined and they make a significant contribution to the breeding and conservation of some of South Africa’s most threatened species.

The agricultural sector provides employment to 870 000 people – up to 5% of total employment in South Africa. It supplements the income and contributes to food security of more than 2,5 million rural households.