WANDILE SIHLOBO: Crops could struggle, judging by the weather
It's still early days, but the optimistic outlook at the opening of the season has changed because rainfall has been erratic
SA’s recent agricultural GDP figures, which show that the sector escaped the recession in the third quarter, expanding 6.5% on a quarter-on-quarter (seasonally-adjusted annualised) basis, are no call for celebration. The recovery could be temporary and weak as the weather outlook, which initially painted a positive picture, now turns out to be a key challenge that could once again negatively affect the performance of the sector in 2019. It is still early days, but the optimistic outlook at the opening of the season has changed. To recap, the 2018/19 production season started on a sound footing, with farmers aiming to lift their summer grain and oilseed planting activity by 5% from the previous season to 4.03-million hectares. These plans were followed by real action, as tractor sales surged 9% to 5,818 units in the first 10 months of 2018 compared to the same period during 2017 . At the time, good rainfall in the eastern parts of the country enabled farmers to start planting. Howev...