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Commercial agriculture myths pollute real policy solutions

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Source: Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz e-newsletter, 17 September 2021, photo credit:  Rouxwil Country House

Unlike several other African countries, South Africa has not faced a food shortage in the recent past. Food production has increased over the years and SA has remained a net exporter. Over the past two decades the country’s agricultural and food trade surplus has averaged $2bn, according to Trade Map data.

These gains were supported by an expanded area under production, primarily fruits and soybeans, and improved productivity across all commodities. The productivity gains were boosted by adopting new farming technologies — mechanical and biological — and better farming techniques.

This trend also resulted in the consolidation of farming units over the years, especially since the 1997/1998 deregulation of agricultural products markets. The consolidation has allowed farmers to take advantage of economies of scale as they compete with global players in the agricultural and food markets.
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