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Ghost towns across South Africa a growing concern for the farming community

Screen Shot 2021-06-21 at 5.03.10 PM

Source: Wandile Sihlobo, 15 June 2021, photo credit: MD_Photography/Shutterstock/Matador Network

On June 9, I presented at the South African Cane Growers Association’s annual general meeting. My talk was, titled South Africa’s agriculture in the economic reconstruction and recovery narrative.

I reflected on South Africa’s agricultural performance over the past decade, which has been fantastic. The volume of production has expanded by 19% between 2010 and 2020. Over the same period, the value of production has grown by 44%. This growth has been widespread across all agricultural subsectors – horticulture, livestock, field crops and animal products.

The only weakness over this period is that inclusion – share of black farmers participation – has remained negligible in several subsectors, at best averaging between 5-10%, according to data from the National Agricultural Marketing Council. The only subsectors with encouraging numbers are the sugar and livestock industries, where commercial share contribution by black farmers is over 20%.

We all know that effective partnerships between commercial farmers and new entrants into the sector have been one of the ingredients for this success. But this is not a focus of this particular note.
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