Agriculture featured prominently in the state of the nation address (sona) by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday night. The focus was the sector’s ability to absorb labour, and also untapped opportunities to ensure inclusive, export-led growth. I have previously discussed the role of agriculture in job creation, with some pushback from a couple of analysts who view this sector as a non-starter when it comes to job creation. In their arguments, they typically raise the issue of the fourth industrial revolution, and the basic development theory view that as nations develop, the role of agriculture, at least from a jobs perspective, diminishes as people move more to manufacturing and the services sectors. While that sentiment has some validity, it’s worth noting that many emerging markets and developed countries still have a huge chunk of people working in their agricultural sectors — even though this number may have declined significantly as a share of overall employment and in abs...

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