11.07.2018

2018 Agbiz Congress - Agriculture cannot be measured in terms of money alone

Agriculture and agribusinesses annually contribute around 14% of total GDP to the economy of South Africa but the value of these sectors cannot be measured in money alone. They make a huge contribution to rural development and sustainable employment. At last calculation, the turnover of Agbiz members, including lending exposure of financial institutions, was in the region of R400 billion per annum, considerably greater than the total farm-gate value of agricutural production in South Africa. The participation of Agbiz members is, therefore, crucial to take agriculture and agribusiness forward in South Africa, said Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz in his opening address at the 2018 Agbiz Congress.


Agriculture and agribusinesses annually contribute around 14% of total GDP to the economy of South Africa but the value of these sectors cannot be measured in money alone. They make a huge contribution to rural development and sustainable employment. At last calculation, the turnover of Agbiz members, including lending exposure of financial institutions, was in the region of R400 billion per annum, considerably greater than the total farm-gate value of agricutural production in South Africa. The participation of Agbiz members is, therefore, crucial to take agriculture and agribusiness forward in South Africa, said Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz in his opening address at the 2018 Agbiz Congress.

Dr Purchase pointed out that one cannot distinguish between politics and economics. “They are part and parcel of the same thing. One has to understand how the political and economic spheres merge, what forces are at play and how we must position ourselves in the political economy of today.”

Dr Purchase emphasised the importance of export markets for local producers, and especially for new entrants. “The route that, for instance, the USA is taking with regard to trade protectionism will drastically shape the future of agriculture and will also influence South African exporters. A significant number of South African commodities are export driven and much progress has been made in developing export markets. If we lose these markets we are going to lose our global competitiveness, which in turn negatively impacts the affordability of local food, and thus the food security of our country. We must grow and expand our global markets”

According to Dr Purchase the agricultural sector will have to work together much closer with, for instance, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Trade and Industry to ensure better management on the demand side of agricultural products and food in South Africa. “We need a far better understanding of and engagement by government on these matters,” Dr Purchase said.

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