Agriculture continues its positive contribution to GDP

Agriculture continues its positive contribution to GDP
Good GDP performance in the last three quarters by the agriculture sector can be attributed to the strong recovery in output across all subsectors, including field crops, horticulture and livestock. Photo: FW Archive
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South Africa’s farming sector continued its positive growth and contribution to national gross domestic product (GDP) during the third quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020).

Figures released on 8 December by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) showed that the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors’ Q3 2020 seasonally adjusted and annualised growth rate was 18,5%, valued at R79,4 billion (Q3 2019: -4,5%/R69 billion), and its contribution to overall growth was 0,6% (Q3 2019: -0,1%).

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Stats SA’s figures added that the sector’s unadjusted growth in GDP measured by production for the first nine months of 2020 was 11,3% compared with the same period in 2019.

A Stats SA statement said that during Q3 2020, South Africa’s food and beverage manufacturing sector was in the top four of the country’s 10 manufacturing divisions that collectively increased their GDP contribution at a rate of 210,2%; contributing 16,2% to GDP growth.

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Addressing the media during the release of the Q3 2020 GDP figures, statistician general, Risenga Maluleke, attributed the rebound of various economic sectors’ contributions to the economy to the easing of COVID-19-related lockdown restrictions.

“During the [Q3 2020] period, the country’s economy rose by an annualised rate of 66,1%. The sharp growth recovery was in response to a severe decline of 51% recorded in the second quarter of 2020, amid the hard lockdown,” the statement said.

Agbiz’s chief economist, Wandile Sihlobo, said the farming sector’s Q3 2020 performance was “much stronger than we anticipated”.

“The generally good performance of the agriculture sector this year is in part because most of the sector was classified as essential and remained operational since the onset of the COVID-19-induced lockdown, [and the] effect extended to the second quarter.

“However, this solid performance is mainly because 2020 is a recovery year in agricultural output across all subsectors, [namely] field crops, horticulture and livestock, following prolonged periods of drought in 2018 and 2019, and also [due to] a surge in exports this year,” he said.

Paul Makube, senior agricultural economist at FNB Agri-business, said the sector’s latest quarterly performance was “impressive”, and added that the outlook for the remainder of 2020 remained positive, with forecasts for favourable weather across the country strengthening this sentiment.

“Good production conditions will boost all agriculture subsectors, thus another good year [is] ahead,” he said.

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