southafricaSouth Africa is located at the most southern tip of the African continent. It has about 1553 miles coast line along the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income country in the world, enjoying the largest economy in Africa. However, the country shows high poverty rate due to widespread unemployment and unequal income distribution. South Africa has a highly diversified population of about 51 million people. The country has three capitals: Pretoria (administrative), Cape Town (legislative) and Bloemfontein (judicial).  There are nine provinces in the country. The provinces are divided into 52 districts, which comprise eight Metropolitan and 44 district municipalities. The district municipalities are sub-divided into 226 local municipalities.

The central region of South Africa is flat, hot and dry, with sparse population, while the eastern coastline is green, with tropical climate. The country, in general, has a temperate climate, but its diverse topography and the effect of oceans create as many as seven climatic zones ranging from Mediterranean, to sub-tropical and semi-desert. The winter season is from June to August. The south-eastern part of South Africa has high mountains, and the country is rich in biodiversity and wild life.

Context

Context

The agriculture sector of South Africa is divided into two distinct parts: one has relatively small population, but with highly developed commercial farming; the other has far larger population with subsistence farming. While about 12 percent of the country’s land can be used for crop production, only 22 percent of this is considered as highly potential arable land. Average farm size has been growing while the number of farms has been declining over the years. Limited water and erratic rainfall pattern are the main constraints in agricultural development. About 1.3 million hectares are under irrigation in South Africa, and these consume around 50 percent of the country’s water. Maize is the main crop followed by wheat, sugarcane and sunflowers. Citrus, deciduous fruits, and locally produced wines and flowers are exported. Cattle ranching and sheep farming are common in arid areas. The contribution of agriculture to the national GDP has been steadily declining during the past four decades, with the present contribution being about two percent. Still, about 8.5 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for living. The sector provides employment to about 638,000 people. Agro-processing is a popular aspect of the agriculture sector.

The official development assistance (ODA) for the agriculture sector of South Africa was about $57 million during the period 2005-07, which was about 2.1 percent of the total ODA for the country. Major donors for the country included the European Commission, USAID, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Japan.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator Value Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

992,280

81.70

14,350,000

11.81

0.29

2009

2009

2009

2009

2009

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land) 49.20 2009

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

2.39

121.28

7.97

6.10

2011

2010

2011

2011

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$) 6,960 2011

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

88.71

98.09

97.04

101.07

104.83

2007

2007

2007

2007

2009

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

126.83

20.94

2011

2011

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population  

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

50,586,757

41.16

19,229,645

38

2.34

18,163,018

1,187,000

6 .53

29.40

2011

2010

2011

2011

2010

2010

2010

2010

2010

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

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Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (April 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson