South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has highlighted access to agricultural land for subsistence farming and commercial production as a national priority. In his weekly newsletter, the president explained that the South African agricultural sector played an essential role in the economy, contributing 5.3% to total formal employment. He emphasized that the transformation of patterns of ownership “are fundamental in addressing not only food security, but also historical injustices”.
Owing to the impact of the pandemic, South Africa’s economy suffered a significant contraction in April, May and June. The gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 16% between the first and second quarters.
However, while nearly all other sectors of the economy registered significant drops in output, Ramaphosa said “agriculture bucked the trend”, noting that there had been an increase in maize exports and rising international demand for citrus fruit and pecan nuts, helping the industry grow by 15.1%.
The figures suggested that there was clearly further growth potential in the sector and access to land for new farmers was critical, the president noted, emphasising that “development in this area must be coupled with long-term farmer support, which includes financial and business management training”.