Agricultural Production And Export

The relative importance of agriculture is illustrated by the sectoral analysis of the gross domestic product (Table 1). Agriculture has declined since 1970 but has become more stable since 1990. Real growth rates in agricultural produce have increased by 1.7% per annum since 1960, with the respective sectors being livestock, 1.9%; field crops, 1.0%; and horticulture, 2.9%. In terms of gross value, animal products constitute 42%, field crops 33%, and horticultural products 25% of agricultural produce. As an export commodity, agricultural produce increased from 3.76 billion rand in 1988 to 11.983 billion rand in 1996, which represents a share of the total export of 7.6% and 9.5%, respectively. Animal products constitute a declining share of agricultural produce export, from 34% in 1988 to 11.4% in 1996. In contrast, field crops and horticulture, the major contribution being the latter, increased from 66% in 1988 to 89% in 1996.

Field and Horticultural Crops

Field crops are mostly produced without irrigation. Quantitatively, corn and wheat are the major crops, but significant quantities of sunflower seed, grain sorghum, groundnuts, and barley are also produced. South African corn is recognized worldwide for its quality and stringent control tests. Cultivars are established for yield under dryer conditions, disease resistance, persistence under poor climatic conditions, and lysine and methionine content. In the case of wheat, breeding lines are screened for baking qualities. Specific efforts to eliminate the Russian aphid have been successful. In total, 10 to 15 million t of field crops are produced annually.

The horticultural crop consists of some 30 types of deciduous and subtropical fruit, together with citrus and a number of vegetable species. Grapes are the most important fruit crop, with more than 80% finding their way into wine production. Wine is largely exported. Significant quantities of oranges, apples, pears, peaches, bananas, and other subtropical fruits are also exported. Fruit accounts for about 60% of the gross value of all horticultural products, vegetables and potatoes some 30%, and flowers, tea, and other products the remainder.

Animal Products

The gross value of white meat in 1997 was 5.651 billion rand compared with 4.907 billion rand for red meat and 4.699 billion rand for corn, the most important field crop. Due to the intensive nature and relative efficiency of poultry (white) meat production, the industry has made rapid strides in capturing a substantial share of the meat market. This share is further boosted by meat demand, because South Africa is a net importer of meat. The percentage composition of the different animal products produced is shown in Table 2.

A salient feature in Table 2 is the proportional decline in the market of red meat and fiber (mainly wool) production. Although South Africa still produces of the best-quality fine wool and mohair in the world, the decline in market share, as well as export, is noteworthy.

By far the majority of dairy produce is fresh milk, followed by ice cream, condensed milk, cheese, butter, and fermented products such as yogurt and fruit-based drinks. Dairy produce has lost share of the market (Table 2) since 1980, whereas egg production and ostrich products have shown a steady increase.

Food Consumption Patterns

The per capita consumption of food commodities comprises about 120 kg grain, 65 kg vegetables, 55 kg dairy produce, 35 kg sugar, and 30 kg red meat. Because of price, 30% of the food budget is spent on meat, 20% on bread and grain products, 18% on vegetables and fruit, 9% on dairy products, and the remainder on miscellaneous commodities including sugar, preserved products, and jam. The demographic character of South Africa has a major influence on food consumption patterns, as does urbanization. These

Table 1. Gross Domestic Product


Agriculture (%)

Mining (%)

Manufacturing (%)

Commerce (%)

Other (%)

GDT┬░ ( X RIO6)

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