Agricultural business confidence drops – again

Growing concerns about the economic conditions in South Africa’s agricultural sector resulted in a further drop in the Agribusiness Confidence Index in the first three months of 2023.

After declining four points in the final quarter of last year, it dropped a further five points in the first quarter of this year, to 44. The survey was conducted in the last two weeks of February, covering businesses operating in all agricultural subsectors across South Africa.

“The current reading is the lowest since Q2 2020 when Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were first implemented,” noted Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz).

Sihlobo said agriculture and agribusiness leaders were becoming increasingly worried about the economic conditions they faced.

“Addressing the electricity crisis, and sector-focused issues such as biosecurity, opening up more export markets and dealing with inefficiencies in municipality service delivery are some of the key issues that will help improve sentiment and the fortunes of our agriculture and agribusiness sectors,” he wrote.