According to Stats SA 3rd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report released on 8 December 2020, the economy of South Africa rebounded in the 3rd quarter of 2020. The growth was mainly due to the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as more and more industries opened. The 3rd quarter of 2020 crept to 13.5% after it had regressed by 51% in the 2nd quarter of 2020 and this translate to an annualized growth of 66.1%. The economic recoveries were registered from all the sectors with manufacturing, mining and trade being the highest contributors to the economic growth of the country. However, the growthy remain vulnerable with power shortages and the country needs an economic growth of 5% to create employments. The agricultural sector, one of the critical drivers of the country’s economy inched by nearly 20% from a growth of 15.1% in the 2nd quarter of 2020. The growth could be attributed to an increase in the production of field, horticultural crops, and animal products. The sector continues to play a significant role in keeping the nation fed or nurtured with basic food commodities. The export of citrus to the United States of America (USA) grew by 10% due to the peak in demand for pure healthy food. These developments in trade between South Africa and the USA is encouraged by the African Growth Opportunity Act, which gives South African citrus tax-free access to the US markets. Although there were initial difficulties in several ports in the country, such as congestion, container shortages and port closures for limited periods due to Covid-19 infections, the citrus sector was able to bypass these hurdles. These developments assisted the export market to grow by 201%, lessening the imports by 1.6%, thus upping trade value by R40 billion (15%), which culminated into the trade growth of nearly 20% in the 3rd quarter of 2020.
The 2020 production estimates under summer crop could further ignite the growth in the sector as its final production estimates for 2020 shows growth of 36.7% or 4,1million additional tons from the previous final estimates of 2019. The maize consumption is at 10.8 million tons as of current and a total of nearly 5 million tons of maize surplus could further re-ignite the curve in the 4th quarter of 2020.
According to Stats SA Quarter 4:2020 Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLF) released on 23 December 2020 the official unemployment rate in South Africa has risen to 32,5% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Compared to a year ago, total employment decreased by 1,4 million, the number of unemployed persons increased by 7,5% (507 000), while the number of persons who were not economically active increased by 9,5% (1,5 million). The largest employment increases were observed in the formal sector (189 000), followed by private households (76 000), the informal sector (65 000) and the agricultural sector (2 000) in Q4: 2020. Skilled agriculture (6 000) was the only occupation that recorded gains in employment in Q4: 2020 compared to Q4: 2019. Compared to Q4: 2019, the largest decreases in employment were recorded in Gauteng (down by 528 000), KwaZulu-Natal (down by 210 000), Western Cape (down by 180 000), Eastern Cape (down by 148 000) and Limpopo (down by 119 000).
In the period September to December 2020, 9.34 million people in South Africa (16% of the population analysed) faced high levels of acute food insecurity and required urgent action to reduce food gaps and protect livelihoods. Of the nine provinces of South Africa, eight provinces were classified as stressed and in need of action for livelihood protection: Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, Northwest, Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape. Kwa-Zulu Natal Province is classified as being in crisis. South Africa’s deteriorating food security is mainly driven by the COVID 19 pandemic as well as high food prices, drought, and economic decline.
To ensure that food security in the Limpopo Province is sustained, the Department is spearheading the household food production programme which aims to empower poor and vulnerable households to produce their own food within their home environment. The households are provided with production inputs to be able to produce various commodities and to grow from household food production to more formal agricultural production where income generation is be the main objective.
Limpopo Province and South Africa at large is reeling from the effects of COVID 19. The COVID 19 pandemic has exacerbated the slow growth of the SA’s already ailing economy. Although the agricultural sector has shown some resilience, but there is a need for change in our service delivery approaches and methods, which calls for new and alternative ways of steering the country’s economy towards recovery.
The Government has put in interventions to stimulate the recovery and growth of the economy. This has given more impetus on the need to accelerate support interventions and to explore alternative ways of doing things. The RAAVC Plan articulates the development plans and catalytic projects through which the sector will contribute towards the economic recovery interventions. Stakeholder engagement is utilised as a vehicle towards growing the agricultural sector in the Province. The Department is engaging with Commodity Producer Organization (CPO) on smallholder farmer development. These CPOs as stakeholders include Citrus Growers Association Subtropical Fruit Organization, Macadamia SA, Potato SA, National Red Emergent Meat Producer Organization, and the Tomato Growers Association. In addition to small holder farmers, departmental programmes as presented in the APP also supports subsistence and commercial farmers. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) conducted a Census of Commercial Agriculture (CoCA) during 2017. The survey aimed to provide financial, production, employment, and related information for the commercial agriculture industry in South Africa. As to the results of the financial and production statistics in LP, the total number of farms/farming units involved in the commercial agriculture industry in 2019 was 3 054. The largest proportion of farms was in farming of animals (930 farms or 30,5% of the total), followed by mixed farming (852 or 27,9%) and growing of cereals and other crops (630 or 20,6%).