Farming exports up 6% despite severe drought
Exports of fruits, beverages, spirits and vegetables boost the agricultural sector trade balance
Despite enduring the worst drought in more than a decade SA’s agricultural sector recorded a positive trade balance of $2.3bn in 2016. The Agriculture Business Chamber (Agbiz), which represents commercial farmers and agribusiness enterprises nationally, said this was boosted by growth in exports of fruits, beverages, spirits and vegetables, with the total agricultural export value amounting to $8.6bn, up 6% from 2015. These products are mainly grown in the Western Cape, which continues to be gripped by severe drought. Imports Meanwhile, imports rose 26% year on year, reaching $6.3bn. This was driven by a notable uptick in grain imports due to the drought, the chamber said. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy in the Western Cape. The province produces more than half of SA’s agricultural exports, with the EU being one of the province’s main export destinations. The region also accounts for almost 75% of annual offshore wine sales, worth R5bn. Agbiz noted in its report on Tuesda...