Better rains bring a sunnier outlook for SA’s farmers — and consumers
The growing optimism in the sector is apparent — but relief and a full recovery will take more than a single season to filter through, writes Wandile Sihlobo
This year has been one of the most challenging for SA’s agricultural sector, characterised by drought. Activity has been reduced throughout the sector, with revenue shrinking at primary agriculture operations and other agribusinesses. The impact on crop and livestock production has been devastating, and these industries are expected to continue to bear the brunt of this weather phenomenon for years to come. The sector has remained in recession as a result, contracting by 0.3% in the third quarter compared with the second. But we need to remember that droughts alternate with good production seasons, and already, weather indications suggest 2017 could bring the much-needed relief to the sector. Weather forecasters are suggesting conditions could normalise throughout the country, which would improve soil moisture levels. There is also rising optimism among farmers: the 2016 data on intentions to plant suggest summer crops could increase 15% year on year to 3.7-million hectares. The sum...
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