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South Africa

Economy, agriculture and food security

The South African economy is largely based on services, manufacturing and mining. In 2014, the gross domestic product (GDP) was US$ 350 billion (current US$), with an annual growth of 1.5 percent, down from over 5 percent in 2005. Unemployment affects 32 percent of the active population (RSA, 2013). Mineral rents account for almost 4 percent of the GDP in 2013 and are dominated by gold, the country's largest export commodity. Gem diamonds, platinum and other metals are also produced. Manufacturing accounts for over 13 percent and services almost 68 percent in 2013.

Agriculture contributed 2.5 percent to the GDP in 2014 (WB, 2016) but if the entire value chain is taken into account, the agricultural sector contributes up to 12 percent to the GDP (DAFF, 2015). The sector employs 7 percent of active population. About 8.5 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for employment and income (DWA, 2013). The agricultural sector consists in commercial farmers and subsistence smallholder farmers and ranges from intensive crop production and mixed farming to cattle-ranching in the bushveld and sheep-farming in the more arid regions (DAFF, 2015). The main crops are maize, wheat and to a lesser extent sugarcane, sunflower, potatoes, groundnuts, citrus and grapes. About 48 percent of the agricultural production value is from animal production. The forestry industry is strategic with a significant potential in terms of growth and employment (DAFF, 2015).

South Africa is a net agricultural exporter and a net food exporter in 2013. Although it is a net exporter of primary agricultural products, it is a net importer of processed agricultural products. Netherlands, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe rank as South Africa's top three export destinations for agricultural products, while imports come from China, Argentina and Brazil (DAFF, 2015). Prevalence of undernourished people is below 5 percent since 1990 in South Africa, hence achieving the Millennium Development Goal of hunger (FAO, 2015).


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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