Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Your article Agriculture confidence drops to lowest level in nine years refers (Businesslive, December 4).

“We doubt that there will be a meaningful improvement in confidence in the near term if there is still no clarity regarding the land-reform policy in SA,” says agriculture economist Wandile Sihlobo.

The latest Agbiz/IDC agribusiness confidence index results for Q4 (marking a drop to 42 points — the lowest level in nine years), as well as Statistics SA’s Q3 GDP results for agriculture are sobering. In 2017, an euphoric wave permeated the agricultural sector when the sector was lauded as the single largest contributor to GDP, for two consecutive quarters.

It’s against this backdrop that we’re now navigating a landscape that stands in stark contrast to 2017’s — confronted with the effects of a grave shortage of rain, as well as a need for policy certainty around land reform (that will hopefully result in maintained food security).

All eyes are on the agricultural sector, as the proverbial hand that feeds the nation, at a time when investors are also tuned in to the land-reform narrative. So, though not a complete surprise, the latest drop in confidence in the agricultural sector is still a blow to the stomach.

In the export-orientated fresh fruit industry — with exports exceeding 60% a year — we are painfully cognisant of the changeability of investor confidence, as well as the fragility of healthy trade relations. Therefore, we look forward to government’s resolution of the land reform debate and are hopeful that it will be driven by inclusivity.

When the chips are down — like they currently are for agriculture — unity and strengthened partnerships are often all we’re left with. SA has successfully navigated untold challenges politically and economically. So, let’s join hands with government in every way we can, to ensure an outcome that’s economically sound.

Konanani Liphadzi
CEO: Fruit South Africa