As the data available for the first quarter of the year already points to negative growth in the economy, the performance of the agricultural sector could determine how deep the contraction is. Weak performances in the mining, manufacturing and retail sectors, which were hard hit by the worst bout of power cuts the country has seen, indicate that SA’s economy contracted by 2%-2.5% in the first quarter, according to early estimates from economists. If the overall contraction in the first quarter is as steep as 2% this could be a blow to growth forecasts for the year, adding to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s woes as he struggles to resuscitate the economy. The data already available, however, doesn’t paint a full picture of the economy. The wild card, as always, is the agricultural sector, which could either strengthen the blow or offset it slightly. The sector has swayed the direction of the economy in recent years despite SA being one of sub-Saharan Africa’s least agriculturally depen...

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