In the South African fields, rainfall and the availability of water are expected to have the biggest impact on vegetable production in the coming year. Other challenges include input cost increases and limited consumer spending power, which, in turn, were expected to put pressure on producer prices and farmers’ profitability.
Lindie Stroebel, general manager of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), told Farmer’s Weekly that lessons learned from recent droughts would start to become evident in vegetable production trends in South Africa. “Some regions will simply stop producing products not ideal to that climate, or practices will change to intensive cropping to mitigate the risks,” she said.
According to Dr Johnny van der Merwe of the School of Economics at North-West University, intensive vegetable production was dependent on reliable and sufficient water sources.
Onion and seed potato farmer, Willem Mulke, who farms near Douglas in the Northern Cape, said he would be going ahead with all his production plans, but needed sufficient rain to mitigate input costs, adding that irrigation water was also limited by quotas.
Stroebel said local and global demand for vegetables was expected to remain stable, but producers who targeted the high-end vegetable market in the shrinking LSM 8 to 10 segment would be under pressure, as the demand was for more affordable products.
Due to the perishable nature of vegetables, the bulk of the market was domestic, with most exports undertaken to neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Botswana. Stroebel said cross-border trade was, however, expected to increase.