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Finding the key to agricultural growth in South Africa

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 3.04.49 PM

Source: Wandile Sihlobo, Bizcommunity, 5 August 2020, photo credit: Medium

One of the big questions that has occupied South African agricultural economists over the past decade has been how to foster inclusive growth in the sector.

This is, of course, a broad question with several dimensions.

One of the more technical aspects related to this question which deals with where growth should happen – which areas and commodities to prioritise – has largely been resolved and is also addressed in the National Development Plan, published in 2012. But the “softer” side of this question, which deals with stakeholder participation, trust and vision alignment remains unresolved, and that is a major stumbling block to implementation.

There is a generally shared view among policymakers that public-private partnership approaches might be best for developing the South African agricultural sector. This is a view that appeared in the National Treasury paper of 2019 on economic policy. Private sector bodies (agribusiness, farmer organisations and commodity organisations), have also argued for the same. However, there seems to be a challenge in reaching agreement on how such a partnership approach should work and what the roles of different parties should be. Agreement would demand a commitment to implementation from each grouping.

This is an area that should occupy much more of our attention, especially as we begin to think of our post-Covid-19 agricultural economy. The question of how to create a united vision, and how to build trust and commitment is important.
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