Source: Ian van Niekerk, Bizcommunity Agriculture, 17 March 2021, photo credit: Microsoft
The agricultural sector was one of the heroes of 2020 – while most sectors contracted in the first nine months of last year, agriculture grew 11%. Last year agricultural exports amounted to US$10.2bn – a 3% increase compared to 2019.
However, if the sector is to continue to play a role in South Africa’s economic recovery, including reducing unemployment, government needs to provide a more enabling environment. A number of laws and regulations under the umbrella of land reform and land redistribution – including the hotly debated Expropriation Bill – are deterring investment in commercial farming operations for good reason: commercial farmers need a guarantee that their land will not be indiscriminately expropriated before they make new investments.
Land reform efforts need to be focused on transferring ownership to emerging farmers so that they can access the necessary financing. This, however, will require an ideological shift in the ruling party.