Agriculture and farming in South Africa main information
South Africa is a country with one of the most diverse and advanced economies in Africa. Growing market and welcoming business environment, make it one of the most attractive business destinations in the world. South Africa also serves as a connection between other countries in southern Africa. South Africa has one of the most diverse agriculture sector in the world, thanks to the intensive and extensive crop farming systems. The main crops consist of nuts, fruit, grain, and vegetables. According to 2020 data, South Africa's agriculture sector showed the best growth rate comparing with other economic sectors, with 13.1% growth. Climate wise South Africa has a wide range of opportunities of multitude crops. Climat ranges from subtropical to the Mediterranean which is perfect for quite a distinctive biodiversity, with products such as wine, fruit, vegetables, and grains. Large numbers of these crops are exported, which resulted in a demand to improve small-scale farming or subsistence farming.
Only 13.5% of South African land can be used for cultivation and crop production, due to the lack of land. Additionally, only 3% of the land is considered as high potential production land. Formal employment in agriculture in South Africa contributes more or less 5% of the total number of formal employment. Comparing with other African countries, agriculture employment is quite low and with each year the number is still decreasing. Agriculture in South Africa is dated back to prehistory and has been confirmed with archeological pieces of evidence, dated back to 354-68 BCE. The evidence of prehistorical farming and pastoralism in southern Africa was found in the Transvaal province. Additionally, farming in South Africa was included in written European records from 1500 CE
The main sectors of South African agriculture consist of the production of such crops as grapefruit, chicory root (the 4th biggest producer in the world), cereals (5th), maize, corn, and green maize (7th), pears, castor oil seed, fiber crops, and sisal. Another significant part of South African agriculture is the dairy industry which provides work for almost 60,000 farm workers as well as livelihood for 40,000. The dairy industry consists of around 4,3000 milk producers. Livestock production consists of industries such as cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, and egg industry. Livestock value is additionally increased by activities such as slaughtering, processing, and preserving meat, dairy products, preparing animal feeds, and many more.
According to several different sources, just in 2018, South Africa produced larges numbers of crops such as fruit, vegetables, and cereal. Production of sugarcane exceeded 19.3 million tonnes, production of maize 12,5 million tonnes, production of grape 1.9 million tonnes, production of oranges 1.7 million tones, and production of pear 297 000 tonnes. Additionally, the following data suggest that just in 2018 South Africa produced 2.4 million tonnes of potato, 1.8 million tons of wheat, 1.5 million tonnes of soy, 860 000 tonnes of sunflower seeds, 829 000 tons of apples, 537 000 tonnes of tomato, 475 000 tonnes of lemon, 445 000 tonnes of grapefruit, 444 000 tonnes of banana, 421 000 tonnes of barley. There were also other products with lower numbers of production such as sorghum, rapeseed, carrot, cabbage, tangerine, pumpkin, peach, avocado, or pineapple.
Up to 10% of the total South African export errings has been contributed by the agricultural sector with the number of $10.2 billion. The largest exports by value were grapes, corn, apples, citrus, and wine. Other profitable products are wool, sugar, mohair, pears, and nuts, as well as several different crops.
Wheat ProductionAfter the deregulation of agricultural markets in 1997, a significant drop in wheat cultivation has been noticed. Local farmers have begun to scale down wheat production and turned towards other crops such as corn, soybeans, canola, or even increased production of livestock. Additionally, the drop in wheat production has been increased over the past 20 years due to unpredictable weather conditions. With the lack of advanced technology as well as modernized policy, the decreasing trend in wheat production is expected to continue and further develop. Wheat consumption in South Africa, according to various sources, is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Annual wheat consumption indicates a growing trend in the past 10 years and is expected to grow higher. Wheat consumption is expected to reach 3.6 million tons (60 kg per capita) in 2021/22. Due to the decreasing wheat production in South Africa, imports of wheat are expected to reach 1.5 million tons. Annual production of wheat with a current decreasing trend is predicted to achieve 2.0 million tons a year.
Grains ProductionOne of the biggest industries in South Africa’s agriculture is the grain industry which is responsible for the production of such crops as barley, oats, sorghum, wheat, or maize. The grain industry contributes up to 30% of the total value of all agricultural sections. The most important stakeholders for the industry are farmers, traders, millers, bakers, silo owners, suppliers as well as research organizations, and financiers. The grain industry is also strongly influenced by the animal feed industry which is believed to be a crucial client and role player. Up to 6.0 tons of grain annually is used by the animal feed industry, just like 1.6 million tons of oil (especially imported and local sunflower and soybean oil).
The most important crop of the grain industry in South Africa is cron which is the most important source of carbohydrates for animals and people in this region. With an average production of 1.5 million tons annually, South Africa is believed to be the main corn production in the SADC region. Corn is both exported (mostly the surplus corn) and used locally, with the total use o 12 million tons annually. Wheat is another quite important crop for the grain industry. It is mostly cultivated in the winter rainfall areas of the Western Cape as well as the eastern parts of the Free State. To meet the local needs and demand of wheat, South Africa is dependant on wheat imports. Annual local demand for wheat is exceeding 3.5 million tons per year.
Wine and alcoholic beverages productionWine and other alcoholic beverages are important export products of South Africa. It is said that South Africa consumes up to 4.5 billion liters of alcohol annually. The total number of exports in 2018 exceeded 1.105$ million, in 2019 990$, and 828$ in 2020. South Africa also imports large numbers of alcoholic beverages, especially whiskies. The total imports exceeded 497$ in 2018, 578$ in 2019, and 412$ in 2020. According to various sources, the alcohol industry is currently changed due to the new demand of alcohol consumers. South African tastes and preferences are changing and people tend to search for more sophisticated drinks as well as consumers search for a wider range of alcoholic products. New demands resulted in an extensive range of new products from import. Thanks to the openness to new as well as the growing middle class made this sector of South African’s agriculture quite a positive climate for business. However, the demand is strongly dependant on the price instead of the customer's loyality to the brand of alcoholic beverages.
Poultry and meat productionThanks to the steady economic growth, which lead to an increase in average income in South Africa, lots of consumers turned towards a rich protein diet what significantly increased meat consumption. The meat consumption per person has increased between 2000 and 2010 by 4% annually, while chicken consumption has increased by more than 7% per annum in that period. Additionally, the 2010 slowdown in South Africa’s economy has impacted meat consumption greatly. Currently, the annual growth of meat consumption is established as 1% per annum. The total number of meat (poultry, beef, lamb, and pork) is stated as 4.0 million tons per year. Just in 2020 South African consumers spent almost $17 billion on meat products (almost 35% of the total food expenditure). Poultry meat exceeds more than 60% of total meat production. An average person consumes up to 40 kg of poultry annually. Due to the fact that poultry meat is relatively cheap and easily available, it is on average the most important source of protein for a majority of South African residents.
The South African meat market is characterized by three fundamental factors that distinguish it from many other countries. The first factor is the amount of the so-called bone-in (brown meat) demand, compared to the demand for breast meat (white meat). The brown meat demand represents almost 60% of the total chicken meat demand. It is sold low-priced, easy to prepare, frozen bags of 2kg and 5kg mixed packs. The second feature of the meet market is that almost every frozen chicken meat produced locally contains brine to enhance and preserve meat. In 2016, the level of brine exceeded 43% per package, which resulted in higher water content in frozen chicken meat. In the same year, it was regulated by the South African Department of Agriculture, with a regulation that restricted brinded content to a maximum of 15% of the total mass of sold meat. The third factor is a quite low demand for fresh chicken meat. Fresh meat demand is established as 10% of total meat consumption in South Africa. This factor is strongly influenced by the lower-income base because fresh chicken meat is usually sold as a premium product.
Sugarcane ProductionSouth Africa is the 10th largest sugar production. Sugarcane is one of the most important export crops. The main production is located in Natal, where the production began in the mid-nineteenth century. Sugarcane is also grown in Mpumalanga with the use of irrigation to avoid droughts when rainfall is inadequate. The amount of land used for sugarcane production has been enlarged over years and the industry established that more than 16 million tons of sugarcane were produced just in 1994.