Limpopo Province covers an area
of 12,46 million hectares and these accounts for 10,2 % of the total area of the
Republic of South Africa. The Province is endowed with abundant agricultural
resources and it is one of the country's prime agricultural regions noted for
the production of livestock, fruits and vegetables, cereals and tea.
Three distinct climatic regions
can be identified in the province. These are the:
- Lowveld (arid and semi-arid) regions
- Middle veldt, highveld, semi-arid region
- Escarpment region having sub-humid climate with rainfall in excess of 700 mm
The most limiting resource in
the province is water. Irrigation is needed for about 137,000 hectares of which
58,000 hectares are in the hands of black small-scale farmers.
These varied climates allows
Limpopo Province to produce a wide variety of agricultural produce ranging from
tropical fruits such as banana, mangoes to cereals such as maize, wheat and
vegetables such as tomatoes, onion and potatoes. Dualism is declining due to
Land reform outcomes and involvement of Black entrepreneurs in the agribusiness
value chain. However, there are still two distinct types of agricultural
1. the large scale commercial farming system
2. the small holder farming system.
These two systems have evolved
as a result of past policies of the previous governments under the apartheid
regime. The outcomes of Land reform and the acquisition of interests by Black
entrepreneurs in agribusiness will over time remove this anomaly.
farmers who practice large scale farming system using the most advanced
production technology occupy approximately 70% of the total land area. These
commercial farmers operate large farms, which are well organized and situated on
prime land. At present, there are approximately 5,000 commercial farming units
in Limpopo Province (Statistics South Africa: 2002).
farms are located mostly in the former homeland areas and they cover
approximately 30% of the provincial land surface area. Farming under the
smallholder systems is characterized by low level of production technology and
small size of farm holding of approximately 1,5 hectares per farmer; with
production primarily for subsistence and little marketable surplus.
has been estimated that there are approximately 303,000 smallholder farmers in
Limpopo Province by 2000 (Statistics South Africa: 2002). Women constitute 80%
of these smallholder farmers.
Given the fact that 89% of the population
of Limpopo Province is classified as rural, agriculture plays a major role in
the economic development of rural areas of the province.
of agriculture to the economy of Limpopo Province has been summarized in DBSA
Report (1994). In this report, agriculture was estimated to have contributed
15,7% of the gross geographic product (GGP) of the province for 1991 period. The
report has also revealed that agriculture was second only to government (public
or community services), which made the highest contribution for that
In terms of employment, the DBSA report reveals that agriculture
employed 17,5% of the economically active population( in the commercial farming
sub-sector) and a further 25% in the informal or subsistence smallholder farming
sub-sector, thus making agriculture the most important provider of employment in
the Limpopo Province.
The DBSA report also reveals the impact of the
multiplier effect of the agricultural sector on the economy and concluded that
only agriculture recorded a comparative advantage as an economic sector within
Agriculture is interrelated to most of the other sectors of
Limpopo economy. Manufacturing contributes about 27% to final agriculture output
(that is, some agricultural output requires input from manufacturing sector). On
the other hand, about 15% of final agricultural output is used as input in the
manufacturing process to produce final manufactured products.
sectors such as trade, contributes about 5% and transport 3%, financial business
about 1% to the value of final agricultural output. These inter-sectoral
linkages reveal the importance of agriculture to other sectors of the Limpopo
economy. The agricultural sector encompasses not only the primary agricultural
production but the pre-input and input sectors as well as financial sectors,
marketing sectors and agro-processing (manufacturing) sectors.
Province has diverse soils, which vary in productivity. The soils are also
vulnerable to various forms of degradation (physical, chemical and biological)
and hence appropriate management strategies are critical if productivity of the
soils is to be improved and sustained.
Based on the characteristics of
the soils, climate and topography, the land capacity categorization constitute
the following proportions:
1. 37,7% suitable for arable farming
50,1% suitable for grazing
3. 12,2% suitable for wildlife.
land area of the province is 11,960,600 hectares of which 88,2 % (10,548,290 ha)
constitute farmland. Of the total farmland, 14,7 and 14% constitutes potential
arable land in developing agriculture in the former homeland and commercial
agriculture respectively. Dry land cultivation on a commercial basis is only
possible on the Springbok flats. Irrigate farming is predominant in the