South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a better than expected rate in 2017, with the agricultural sector playing a leading role in this regard.
According to Statistics SA, the local economy grew 1,3% in 2017, exceeding National Treasury’s expectation of 1% growth announced during the National Budget Speech in February.
“After a wobbly start to 2017, which saw economic activity contract in the first quarter, the economy saw sustained growth for the remainder of the year.” a Statistics SA statement said.
The highest positive growth figure was recorded by the agriculture‚ forestry and fisheries sector‚ which showed a 37,5% increase during the fourth quarter, with the sector ending on a record growth figure of 17,7% for 2017, the statement said.
Head of economic and agribusiness intelligence at Agbiz, Wandile Sihlobo, said the growth in the agricultural sector had been boosted by strong output in almost all the sub-sectors such as field crops, livestock and horticulture.
This was also reflected in recent trade data, which indicated that agricultural exports had surpassed the US$10 billion (about R119 billion) mark for the first time.
Paul Makube, senior agricultural economist at FNB Business said: “[Despite] a devastating drought in South Africa’s largest agriculture region, the Western Cape, the sector has still managed to pull off an impressive quarter-on-quarter increase in production.”