All things considered, the farming sector in South Africa has not performed too poorly in terms of job losses since the turn of the century. According to Statistics South Africa, employment stood at just under one million in 2001, before declining to about 660 000 in 2012.
There were two highlights at the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa’s (TAU SA) recent annual congress in Pretoria.
Perhaps the single biggest mistake South Africa has made with land reform since 1994 has been to entrust a government department with not only the transfer of land, but also the responsibility to provide support to land reform beneficiaries.
The well-known saying that change happens slowly at first, and then all at once, is probably a misquote from Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, which reads: “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
Independent power producers, an independent water regulator, formalisation of the taxi industry, and hints about a state-subsidised agricultural insurance scheme are just some of the suggestions put forward by National Treasury in a new economic plan for South Africa.
Last year, Coldiretti, Italy’s largest agriculture industry association, released a statement announcing that in 2017, Italian organised crime generated a turnover of €21,8 billion (about R370 billion) from agriculture.
As details about South Africa’s economic mess becomes clearer, and government fails to respond with any clear plan to navigate the country out of debt, many conversations inevitably turn to a discussion about options for leaving South Africa, or, at the very least, sending money away to a safe harbour.
South Africa’s food poverty line, also known as the extreme poverty line, which refers to the amount of money that an individual will need to afford the minimum required daily energy intake, has increased from R547 (figures adjusted for inflation) in 2018 to R561 this year.
Feeling stuck in life is awful. It is demoralising, makes you unproductive, leaves you feeling gloomy about the future, and the longer you remain stuck the more difficult it becomes to escape.
I was left with two overwhelming impressions after reading through Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza’s Budget Vote speech for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development that was delivered in Parliament recently.
If I had to draw a single conclusion from the ‘Agricultural Outlook: 2019 to 2028’ published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at the beginning of July, it would be that South African farmers will require much better assistance from government if they are to remain globally competitive.
Should African countries fail to increase food production and processing to become at least partly self-sufficient, it will be one of the greatest missed opportunities of the century.