Drop in agri employment a cause for great concern – Agri SA

The decrease in employment in the agriculture sector in the fourth quarter of 2022 (Q4 2022) was cause for serious concern, according to Johan Wege, chair of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence: Labour.

Drop in agri employment a cause for great concern – Agri SA
While the recent drop in employment in agriculture is marginal, Agri SA is concerned that this may be a continuing trend as farmers continue to battle load-shedding and high input costs.
Photo: Annelie Coleman
- Advertisement -

His comments followed the release of South Africa’s latest employment figures by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). Wege said that, amongst other reasons, the “perilous position” of the agricultural value chain was largely responsible for the loss of jobs in the sector.

According to the Stats SA report, there were 12 000 fewer jobs in agriculture in Q4 2022 quarter-on-quarter.

READ Cassava: an untapped resource in South Africa

- Advertisement -

Wege said while the loss of jobs was marginal, it pointed to the increasingly challenging environment in which farmers and others along the value chain had to operate. He added that government would be well advised to consider the decline in agricultural employment as an early warning system.

This meant government needed to take notice of the critical challenges facing the industry, such as load-shedding, the above-inflation minimum wage increase and sky-high production costs.

“The commitments President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted in the recent State of the Nation Address [SONA] need to be prioritised to help save jobs in agriculture and guarantee the nation’s food security. The issue of continuous electricity supply is probably the most pressing issue at the moment. We call on government to urgently start implementing the SONA commitments in this regard without avail in an effort to put the production of food and fibre in the country on a sound financial and economic footing.

READ What does the future hold for agricolleges?

“While we appreciate the fact that food production and storage have been declared as essential services [in the Government Gazette in terms of the state of disaster declared by Ramaphosa with regard to load-shedding], we are still in the dark about what this declaration entails,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.

According to Wege, urgent action was needed from government to protect the agriculture sector to ensure the continued production of affordable food.


Previous article‘Agriculture is the glue that keeps SA together’
Next articleWebinar: Is renewable energy really a solution to the electricity crisis?
Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.