I am in the Western Cape this week meeting various agribusinesses. We last had such in-person meetings before the pandemic. The conversations regarding the broad performance of the sector are encouraging, though the Western Cape didn’t experience as robust an agricultural performance as many of the  other provinces because of the temporary bans on alcohol sales, which hit two of the province’s core agriculture industries — grapes for wine and barley for beer production — particularly hard.

The focus is on the rebuilding phase, and at national level the agriculture growth strategy revolves around the agriculture and agroprocessing master plan, which has been in the works for more than a year. Drafting the plan has taken a social compact approach, with business, labour and the government all well represented. However, the question people ask whenever one raises the master plan as our saving grace to boost growth in agriculture is what will make this time different and encourage...

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