Agriculture sector has weathered COVID-19 storm, says chief economist
Agriculture was already constrained due to drought and biosecurity issues before COVID-19 hit.
CAPE TOWN - The agriculture sector has, for the most part, weathered the COVID-19 storm.
That's according to chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, Wandile Sihlobo.
He was addressing the Cape Town Press Club in a virtual presentation on Wednesday.
Agriculture was already constrained due to drought and bio-security issues before COVID-19 hit.
Sihlobo said 2020 was to be the recovery year with bumper grain and fruit harvests.
“We have now the second biggest harvest of grains in South Africa, if you think of maize it's 15.5 million tonnes and that was going to go on to increase job creation.”
He estimates a 10% year-on-year recovery in the country's agricultural GDP for 2020.
That's down from 15% estimated before the pandemic.
Sihlobo said exports have been largely uninterrupted, but logistical issues at ports and global demand remain concerns.
“We export roughly 50% in value terms that's roughly around $10.5 billion of the products that on annual basis we put out to the export markets.”
He added wine grape farmers, wine estates and tobacco farmers remain under pressure due to the banning of alcohol and tobacco sales.