Tuesday’s GDP data for the first quarter which shows that SA’s agricultural output unexpectedly contracted by 3.2% quarter on quarter on a seasonally adjusted and annualised basis should not be of lasting concern. Stats SA attributes the underperformance to “lower production of field crops and animal products”. But this is a temporary blip and shouldn’t be regarded as a worse season than the robust 2020. The sector is set for one of the best years on record, and such improvements should be reflected in the data in the coming quarters. 

For example, the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems forecasts the 2021 wine grape crop at 1.5m tonnes, which is 9% more than the 2020 harvest. The Citrus Growers’ Association projects record exports of 159m cartons in 2021, up from 146m cartons in 2020, thanks to a good harvest. The Crop Estimates Committee forecasts 2020-21 maize and soybean production at 16.2m tonnes and 1.9m tonnes, respectively. That’s an increas...

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