WANDILE SIHLOBO: Western Cape weighs on broader agricultural economy
There’s a lot at stake as headwinds hit the second-largest contributor to South Africa’s agricultural economy
When it comes to agriculture, the Western Cape is essential — not only because of its production of fine wines, but also because of its contribution to SA’s agricultural labour market and the economy. The province is a leading employer in primary agriculture, commanding a share of 20% of the country’s labour force in the third quarter of 2017. It is the second-largest contributor to the agricultural economy in terms of GDP at 22%. As a result, when the province’s agriculture encounters headwinds, a lot is at stake — and the drought is no exception. The latest quarterly labour force survey by Statistics SA confirms this. Of the 25,000 job cuts in SA’s agricultural sector in the third quarter, about 84% were in the Western Cape. Combined, the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo accounted for 16% of the third quarter’s reduction in employment. However, the balance was also skewed by production seasonality factors — there is reduced agricultural activity in t...