The Growing of Cereals and Other Crops in South Africa describes current conditions, commercial production predicted for 2017 and legislative developments. Factors that influence the success of the sector are also covered, and include the current Fall Armyworm infestation that destroyed crops in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and that has been identified as the cause of damage to yellow maize and maize planted for seed production in Limpopo and North West.
The Growing of Cereals and Other Crops in South Africa
This report focuses on the growing of cereals and other crops, including maize, wheat, sugar cane, sunflower seeds, cotton and tobacco. According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the country’s agricultural sector contributes about 2.5% to GDP and net farming income reached R73.414bn at the end of 2015. In the crop sub-sector Grain SA estimates its membership at 3,500 white commercial farmers, 123 “new era” black commercial farmers harvesting more than 250 tons annually, 1,133 smallholder farmers with more than 10 hectares at their disposal producing less than 250 tons and 6,002 subsistence farmers with fewer than 10 hectares who produce only for household use.
Although the South African agricultural sector performed well over the past decade and gross value added by the sector grew more than 30% in 2014, this expansion declined rapidly in the last two seasons as a result of extreme drought especially in the summer rainfall regions. Drought conditions during 2016 led to a maize harvest of 7.5 million tons, 25% lower than in 2015, resulting in the need for imports in excess of 3 million tons in the 2016/17 season. Adding to these problems are increasing input costs which have resulted in dwindling profitability for farmers of all crops, uncertainty regarding land reform legislation and for sugar farmers, the possibility of the imposition of a sugar tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.