The World Economic Forum ranks SA as the second-most difficult country to operate in when it comes to labour relations. This sad reality drives an ineluctable move to mechanise in an economy suffering chronic unemployment. Agriculture presents a particularly bleak picture. “Over the past 20 years half a million jobs have been lost in [the sector],” says Jim Rankin, secretary of the SA Agricultural Machinery Association. The jobs are being done by machines. Mechanisation has been especially aggressive in maize and wheat farming. “SA is now up there with countries such as the US,” says Johan Pienaar, Agri SA deputy executive director. The pace of mechanisation is not slowing. A rising trend in tractor sales, most of them to maize farmers, reflects this. “Between 1997 and 2010 average annual tractor sales ran at about 5,000,” says Rankin. “The norm now appears to be 5,500-6,500.” It is not only a case of more tractors being sold. “Tractor sizes are increasing,” says Arnold Goldstone, e...

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