Govt to hold ‘landmark’ census of SA commercial agriculture

Plans for the first stage of the most comprehensive census ever conducted of South African agriculture were announced in Gauteng on Monday.

Govt to hold ‘landmark’ census of SA commercial agriculture
- Advertisement -

Plans for the first stage of the most comprehensive census ever conducted of South African agriculture were announced in Gauteng on Monday.

The census will be conducted under the auspices of Statistics SA, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

READ Concern over lack of training for future farmers

- Advertisement -

Speaking at the round-table discussion on the Census of Commercial Agriculture (CCA), DAFF’s deputy director-general of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Joe Kgobokoe, described the census as a “landmark exercise”.

“Because the National Development Plan is prioritising agriculture […] we feel that we need a database of all our farmers. You cannot be in a country […] where you are talking about farmers but you don’t know who they are,” he said.

Statistics SA’s statistician-general, Risenga Maluleke, told the meeting that while the country’s post-1994 national population censuses had surveyed aspects of the agricultural sector, this data had not been sufficiently specific to generate a detailed overview of this sector.

Maluleke said that the CCA would target all agricultural activities and businesses registered for VAT, and that data provided would be used for “benchmarking in the reconciliation of current agricultural spaces”.

READ Farmers, the black sheep of the world?

Dr Lewis Hove, country representative of the FAO, which is to assist with the CCA, said the data would also be used by his organisation to generate an overview of global food security.

He added that the CCA would seek information on size of holding, land tenure, land use, crop area, irrigation, livestock numbers, and labour and other agricultural inputs.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. If you don’t know what’s going on on the farms, you can’t develop it, you can’t manage it, you can’t move it forward,” he said.

Maluleke said that a team of approximately 400 people would be conducting the CCA, which is due to be conducted from September 2018 to March 2019.

Kgobokoe said the CCA could achieve its aims only if South Africa’s organised agriculture bodies, particularly farmers’ unions, were active participants in the process, and urged them to create awareness of the census amongst their constituencies.

At the time of publication, Farmer’s Weekly was unable to find out from Statistics SA why the CCA would target only the commercial agricultural sector.

However, a reliable source indicated that a census of the country’s smallholder and subsistence agricultural sector would be conducted when budget allocation allowed for it.

Previous articleManaging resistance of African stem borer to BT-maize
Next articleSlow-cooked oxtail with burnt sugar
Lloyd Phillips joined Farmer’s Weekly in January 2003 and is now a Senior Journalist with the publication. He spent most of his childhood on a Zululand sugarcane farm where he learned to speak fluent Zulu. After matriculating in 1993, Lloyd dreamed of working as a nature conservationist. Life’s vagaries, however, had different plans for him and Lloyd ended up sampling various jobs in South African agriculture before becoming a proud member of the Farmer’s Weekly team.