The agriculture sector showed the biggest growth in the South African economy during the third quarter of 2017.
According to Statistics SA, agriculture, forestry and fisheries showed robust growth of 44.2%, the biggest quarterly growth since 1996. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2% during the quarter and showed a yearly growth of 0.8%.
According to Statistics SA, the contribution of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries to national GDP growth was 0.9 of a percentage point. The mining industry grew by 6.6% and the manufacturing sector grew by 4.3%.
Wandile Sihlobo, agriculture economist from Agbiz, said the third quarter was expected to show an increase of roughly 25% after the second quarter grew by 38.7%. “The continued robust growth could be due to good agriculture output in the 2016/’17 summer production season, which boosted trade.”
This season, the production of summer grains, oil seed and fruit grew, which helped to restore the livestock sector, leading to stable exports. Sihlobo said usually Agbiz and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) business confidence index is a good, leading indicator of agriculture GDP.
The recent decline in business confidence may not lead to a similar decline in agriculture’s GDP. He added that this can be attributed to better expectations for weather conditions in summer production regions, which is not yet reflected in the confidence index.
Furthermore, the drought in the Western Cape Province of South Africa played a large role in a declined business confidence. According to Sihlobo, the sector can show growth over an extended period and, due to expectations of favourable weather conditions and price competiveness for certain commodities.
Farmers plan to increase the surface under crops by 43 400 ha to 4.03 million ha in the 2017/’2018 season.