Source: Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz e-newsletter. This essay first appeared on Business Day, 8 December, 2020, photo credit: Bioadvanced
Synopsis: ENSO-neutral conditions may transition to La Niña co I will use this last column for the year to reflect on an eventful yet positive 2020 for SA’s agriculture and provide a brief outlook for 2021.
At the start of the year I highlighted two threats that were imminent at that time in the agricultural sector, namely drought and bio-insecurity (specifically foot-and-mouth disease).
At that time it looked as though 2020 would not be much different from 2019, a challenging year in which the sector’s gross value added contracted by almost 7% due to climatic challenges.
Several areas experienced drier than normal conditions, including the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo and parts of the Free State. In terms of biosecurity, the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak reported at the end of 2019 curtailed exports of animal products and wool.
However, by the end of January the outlook for the sector had turned positive. It had finally rained across the country and crops looked promising, despite most having been planted outside the optimal window.