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Agricultural exports are performing well

While poultry exports languish, the rest of South Africa’s agricultural sector is doing pretty well.

Export figures for the first half of 2021 showed an agricultural trade surplus of R22 billion in the second quarter – a year on year increase of 40% – building on a 28% increase in the first quarter. Total agricultural exports for the first six months were $6.1 billion, a 30% increase on the first six month of 2020.

Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo said the large increase was partly because 2020 figures were affected by Covid-19-related disruptions to global supply chains. However, a number of products had shown rising export performance.

Top exports for the second quarter were citrus, apples and pears, maize, wine, grapes, pineapples, avocados, wool and nuts.

Agriculture provided one of the few bright spots in the employment figures. The number of farm jobs increased by 69 000, or nearly 9%, in the second quarter because of bumper harvests.

While agriculture does well, the country’s overall export performance is not as good. Over the past decade, South Africa’s export growth rate has more than halved and the country’s share of world trade has fallen from 0.6% or world exports to about 0.4%.

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