The latest release of GDP figures from StatsSA indicates that the agriculture sector continued to perform relatively well during the second quarter of 2020.
Growing by 29% in quarter one and another 15% in quarter two, the agricultural economy is recovering from several difficult seasons owing to droughts and limited market access for livestock exports.
Out of the ten sectors measured, only the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector realised a growth.
Agricultural industries concentrated in the Western Cape, have over the past two-quarters performance improved harvests and sales of citrus, dried and deciduous fruit, compared to 2019.
Unfortunately, the impact of the initial hard lockdown and subsequent alert level restrictions on wine sales and international tourists participating in agri-tourism activities has stifled growth.
In terms of the volumes exported, table grape exports were up by 7%, peaches and nectarines by 13%.
Citrus exports are performing exceptionally well with the year-to-date export volumes already 13% more than the 2017-2019 average, with apple export 7% higher.
The sharp decline in wine exports for both bottled and bulk wine is a concern. However, hopefully, some lost opportunity for exports can be regained in the coming months as local wine sales can now proceed without lockdown restrictions on trade.
All indications point to a good year for agriculture, with good production volumes for grains, oilseeds and horticulture.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture will continue to work alongside our commodity and industry organisations to grow our agricultural economy.
They will continue to assist producers through their partnership with amongst others the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) and the Sustainability Institute of South Africa (SIZA).
They have increased their support for Wines of South Africa’s (WOSA) export promotion initiatives to enable them to intensify their efforts in the African and Chinese markets.
The Department will also be supporting the South African Table Grape Industry’s (SATI) China marketing campaign.