Agriculture: Analysis of the NIDS Wave 1 dataset

Type Working Paper - NIDS Discussion Paper no. 6
Title Agriculture: Analysis of the NIDS Wave 1 dataset
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
The agricultural sector in South Africa is starkly dualistic, comprising a highly capitalised well-integrated commercial sector, and a subsistence sector that is mostly to be found in the former ‘homeland’ areas. Although only about 12 percent of South Africa can be used for crop production, with areas of high-potential making up 22 percent of this land, South Africa is virtually self-sufficient in all major agricultural products and is usually a net food exporter. Further, while agriculture production contributes less than 3 percent to GDP and 7.2 percent of formal employment, downstream linkages into agro-industrial processing increases this contribution to 15 percent of GDP. The Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State are the largest provinces in terms of the number of commercial farms, although Gauteng displaces the Free State in terms of gross farming income. Estimates of the contribution of the subsistence sector in terms of value, employment and impact on food security are scanty and prone to measurement error. Official statistics show employment in ‘informal sector agriculture’ to be highly variable, but attribute some 470 000 workers to this sector, mostly concentrated in KwaZulu-Natal (42.6 percent) and the Eastern Cape (37.3 percent) (Stats SA, 2007: xiv).

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