Investment in agriculture key to South Africa’s economic growth, premier says

A poor performance in the South African agricultural sector contributed to the 2018 recession in the country. When it recovered in the third quarter of the same year, it was partly due to the recovery of the agricultural sector.

Although it contributes just about 3 percent to South Africa’s GDP, agriculture is an important sector in the South African economy, earning the country $10.3 billion from export in 2017. But more investment is needed in the South African agricultural sector if it is to reach its full potential, says North West Premier, Professor Job Mokgoro.

“Every conversation around agriculture at the moment asserts that this is a sector that plays a critical role in the economy of many developing countries. In South Africa, as in many of these developing countries, the contribution that agriculture makes to efforts of employment is well documented,” he said at a College of Agriculture graduation ceremony in the country.

According to him, about six million people’s livelihood is dependent on agriculture.

“This is about 10% of the South African population,” Mokgoro said, noting that agriculture is inextricably linked to key government priorities such as food security, exports and the foreign exchange.

Last month at her State of the Province Address, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille had also spoken of the importance of thr agricultural sector to South Africa. Despite three years of drought in the country, provincial agriculture and agri-processing sectors have started recovering, adding a combined 35,000 jobs between the third and fourth quarter of 2018. Even during the three years of drought, the sectors created 10,000 jobs.

To consolidate the renewed growth of the sector since the third quarter of 2018, South Africa met Saudi officials recently, to discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on technical cooperation in the field of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture as well as to identify potential areas for investment.

“We remain adamant that the agricultural sector carries dynamic opportunities that present an upper hand to any young person who is passionate about it,” Mokgoro told the graduating students, adding that “the evolution of technology has made it even far [more] stimulating to be part of this sector”.

The college is one of two State-owned colleges in the North West tasked with training young people in South Africa with a passion for agricultu