Agriculture in South Africa contributes to around 10% of formal employment. Because of the aridity of the land, only 13.5% can be used for crop production.
South Africa has a very large agricultural sector and is a net exporter of farming products. Agriculture exports constitute around 8% of South Africa’s total exports. South Africa is the 8th largest producer of wine, 11th largest producer of sunflower seed and exports products as well as foodstuffs.
The largest items being exported are sugar, grapes, citrus, nectarines, wine and deciduous fruit. Diamonds, gold, platinum, machinery, equipment and other metals and minerals also makes up a big part of our exports.
The largest locally produced crop is maize with an estimated 9 million tons being produced every year, of which 7.4 million tons are being consumed in the country. This is the country’s dietary staple as well as a source of livestock feed. Other agricultural products include wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, mutton, wool and dairy products
Grains and cereals are South Africa’s most important crops, occupying more than 60 percent of hectare under cultivation in the 1990s.
Livestock is another very popular farming in South Africa. 85% of all meat consumed are produced locally on these farms. The dairy industry consists of more than 4 300 milk producers and provides employment for more than 60 000 farm workers.
The agricultural sector has introduced controversial reforms over the past years, which includes land reform. Farmers feel they are discriminated against (most farmers are white) and the people waiting for the land, feels that the reform is not developing quickly enough.
Two major challenges that the industry faces are the increase of foreign competition as well as crime. Crime against farmers are often (but not always) racially motivated.
More than 1 800 farmers have been murdered since the end of apartheid in 1994 which caused farmers to flee to the cities. Due to this and other troubles, there are now only 25 000 commercial farmers as opposed to 85 000 in 1994. Productivity has decreased by 50%.
South Africa’s natural resources include gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, tin, nickel, phosphates, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper, salt, natural gas and vanadium. Industries includes mining (world’s largest producer of platinum, gold and chromium), metalworking, machinery, automobile assembly, textile, iron and steel, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair as well as chemicals.
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