SA’s agricultural sector has an auspicious outlook, despite the fact that challenges such as policy uncertainty and climate change remain dark clouds overhead. In 2017, SA’s agricultural exports grew past the $10bn mark for the first time, boosted by growth in exports of edible fruit, beverages, spirits, vegetables, grains and other agricultural products. This is a 15% increase from 2016, a year that was characterised by El Niño-induced drought. In the same year imports also increased but by a marginal rate of 5% year on year, reaching $6.7bn. This was driven by a notable uptick in grain imports, particularly wheat and rice, on the back of reduced domestic production as a result of the Western Cape’s drought and an increase in domestic consumption. SA recorded rice imports growing by 10% year on year to 1.1-million tonnes in 2017. There were also large imports of meat, sugar, tobacco and coffee, among other products. Above all, a closer look at the trade statistics shows that SA’s a...

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