Only 15% of South Africa is suitable for crops

26 May 2017 – South Africa has no more than 15 percent of land that can be used for crop production due to low rainfall and poor soil, agriculture minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Wednesday.
Covering 1.2-million square km of land, South Africa is self-sufficient in virtually all major agricultural products but it uses 50 percent of its water for irrigation.
This problem is worsening however, with the drought in the Western Cape recently being declared a disaster. This follows a trend however. South Africa suffered its driest year on record in 2015 according to the national weather service. The current drought which has damaged crops and hit economic growth shows no sign of abating.

Africa must start by treating agriculture as a business

23 May 2017 – No region of the world has ever moved to industrialised economy status without a transformation of the agricultural sector. Agriculture, which contributes 16.2% of the GDP of Africa, and gives some form of employment to over 60% of the population, holds the key to accelerated growth, diversification and job creation for African economies.

But the performance of the sector has historically been low. Cereal yields are significantly below the global average. Modern farm inputs, including improved seeds, mechanisation, and irrigation, are severely limited. Read more…

SA suffers from fragmented policy making in agriculture and food security

Research shows that South Africa suffers from fragmented and incoherent policy in the areas of agriculture and food security. This is particularly true of the informal food economy, which has been effectively ignored (or alternatively maligned) by policymakers despite playing an important part in ensuring poor South Africans can eat. Read more…

How urbanisation can benefit farmers

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released its 2017 Global Food Policy Report, the latest in an annual analysis of developments in food policy across the developing world based on the most recent available evidence. This report especially focuses on the effect that urbanisation has on food systems. Read more…

Operation Phakisa to transform agricultural sector

The government will on Friday unveil the Operation Phakisa segment that focuses on agriculture, land reform, and rural development. This segment is meant to enhance and transform the agricultural sector while accelerating land reform. Read more…

The dynamics of land deals in Africa

Looking at several large-scale land deals in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, this extraordinary documentary highlights the nuanced impacts of these investments. Small-scale farmers and producers, national government officials, and African policy-makers unpack the deals, showing that there are winners and losers when providing investors access to large tracts of land in Africa. Read more..

Eased input costs, improved profit margins expected for 2017

The drought has caused a significant drop in planted areas, but much-awaited rains have brought some relief and farmers can finally commence with planting. The latest Crop Estimates Committee’s (CEC) planting intentions report showed a rebound in the expected area for most of the crops. Approximately 3.753 million hectares will come under crop production during the 2016/17 season. Read more…

The impact of political rhetoric on the stability of the agriculture sector

“Recently there have been a lot of political rhetoric about land invasions that we feel is very irresponsible,” said president of Agri SA, Johannes Möller, and we need to understand the impact that such rhetoric can have on food security and the stability of the sector. Read more…

Agro-processing incentives to boost jobs and economy

The Department of Trade and Industry is working on creating a dedicated agro-processing incentive scheme to attract investment in the sector. The department has said before that it will focus on the development and revitalisation of critical agro-processing infrastructure to stimulate growth in the industry. Read more