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Stats SA – agriculture carries the economy

The covid-19 has strangled most developed economies globally and South Africa was expected to be no different.

Statistics SA earlier released South Africa GDP quarter 2 performance, signifying a bloodbath to the economy.

‘Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by just over 16% between the first and second quarters of 2020, giving an annualised growth rate of ‑51%.’

Out of the 10 industries, Stats SA said agriculture fared better than the other industries.   

“Agriculture was the only industry that seemed relatively unaffected. An increase in maize exports, as well as rising international demand for citrus fruits and pecan nuts, helped the industry expand by 15,1%. Locally, the baking craze that gripped the country during the lockdown increased the demand for home cooking products.”

The ban of alcohol and tobacco also added to this strain as consumer spending on these items fell by 92,4%.

Household spending slumped by 49.8% due to the closure of restaurants, hotels and stores. The effects of job losses under quarter 2 are expected to resemble the contraction.

During quarter 1, Stats SA – Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) survey indicated that the formal non-agricultural sector shed 3 000 jobs, bringing the number of people employed in the formal non-agricultural to 10,2 million in South Africa.

“A net decline in total employment in the first quarter of 2020 was mainly driven by decreases in the number of people employed in the formal sector (50 000) and Agriculture (21 000)” Stats SA had indicated.

According to figures previously presented by the department of labour, unemployment rate peaked at 41.4%, with UIF reporting to have disbursed Covid-19 TERS benefits at a cost of R48 billion.

Agricultural industries, especially the citrus, had reported positive trade balances during the second quarter.

The release of these stats had garnered for more calls of funding and prioritization for agriculture.  

During the supplementary budget earlier this year, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, had revised the agricultural budget from R16 billion to R14 billion due to the pandemic.

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