One of the very few success stories of the last few agonising months has been the agricultural sector, which grew +13.1% in 2020, and which, the agricultural chamber of commerce Agbiz acknowledges, is expanding, with the potential to compete in more international markets. In volume terms, agriculture has grown +19% since 2010, with horticulture up +70% and animal products +43%. It’s also a highly export-oriented sector, with exports accounting for $10.2bn in 2020, up +3% YoY. So where are these brave new markets to be found? Short answer, BRICS, particularly India and China, which already absorb large volumes of agricultural imports. Over the last decade the BRICS have represented a relatively small market for South African exports, accounting for only $9.5bn in that period, but all are avid consumers of citrus, wool, nuts, apples and pears, wine, grapes, sugar and jams – which, as it turns out, we produce by the bakkie-load.
Comment: If done right, agriculture can be a sustainable and job-creating sector for a world which grows ever hungrier as it produces more mouths to feed.