15 October 2020
The President’s Economic Recovery Plan comes at a peculiar time as the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to cripple many economies. South Africa’s already ailing economy is not spared from the bruising and battering too. Over 2 million jobs were lost. An annualised GDP contraction of 51% in the second quarter was reported by Stats SA. The significantly weakened economic growth prospects, declining business and consumer confidence trends as well as growing levels of unemployment and inequality necessitates the speedy implementation of a recovery plan to ignite the economy, reduce debt levels and grow employment.
To this end, Agri SA notes the President’s most recent plan. We believe that the environment is well resourced with a strong policy framework foundation in the form of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the report by the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture. Inefficiencies in terms of implementation and poor coordination between stakeholders have stymied the roll-out of the NDP. Implementation remains a massive challenge and if not addressed it poses a serious challenge to achieving the outcomes outlined in the recovery plan as announced by the President.
“We are of the opinion that the agricultural sector will lead the way in resetting the economy. Farmer development, rural safety and market access, key drivers for this objective, must therefore be prioritised. In as much as the plan highlights key challenges faced by the industry, the plan is still very much quite thin on key details as to how these will be addressed and the timelines thereof. These include issues related to the availability of cheap capital, land rights, tenure security, water rights, corruption, etc must be addressed as a matter of urgency’, said Nicol Jansen, chair of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence on Economics and Trade.
Agri SA is of the opinion that to grow the South African agricultural sector, the existing expertise and knowledge in the sector must be leveraged. All of this will be futile if the levers at a governmental level are not utilised in an effective manner. Agri SA is looking forward to the upcoming MTBPS by the Minister of Finance. The focus should be to capacitate key SOE’s like the Land Bank, SARS and Eskom, as well as ensuring that investment in key infrastructure such as ports, roads, rail and dams that is also of critical importance to the agricultural sector, are prioritised.
The opportunity presents itself to unlock the untapped potential within the agricultural sector. Climate conditions are favourable and with effective and expeditious implementation of the recovery plan in partnership with the private sector, agriculture will pave the way for economic recovery and job creation.
Agri SA Agricultural economist
Agri SA Chairman: Economics and Trade Centre of Excellence