South Africa is self-sufficient in virtually all major agricultural products and is a net food exporter. Farming remains vitally important to the economy and development of the southern African region.
South Africa has a dual agricultural economy, with both well-developed commercial farming and more subsistence-based production in the rural areas. The country is made up of many productive areas with Mpumalanga being one the most important agricultural regions in SA.
Unique factors favour the cultivation of a highly diverse range of marine and agricultural products. From deciduous, citrus and subtropical fruit to grain, wool, cut flowers, livestock and game.
South Africa is among the world’s top five exporters of avocados, grapefruit, tangerines, plums, pears, table-grapes, macadamia nuts and ostrich products.
Agricultural activities range from intensive crop production and mixed farming to cattle ranching in the bushveld and sheep farming in the arid regions. Maize is most widely grown, followed by wheat, oats, sugar cane and sunflowers.
Fruit and vegetables
South Africa’s fruit and vegetable sector ranks among the best in the world. The subtropical Lowveld fruit farming includes an abundance of citrus and many other subtropical fruit such as mangos, marulas, avocados, litchis, bananas, paw-paws, guavas, granadillas, as well as paprika, pepperdews, coffee, tea and deciduous fruit. Nelspruit / Mbombela is the second-largest citrus producing area in South Africa (the Cape being the first) and is responsible for one third of the country’s orange exports.
As many people will already know, South Africa is famous for its extensive production of wines. It is actually the ninth largest wine producer in the world and climbing fast. Over 110 000ha of land are currently under cultivation, with over 300-million vines. A large number of wine producers employ over 60 000 people within the industry. Most visitors to our country will try to find the time to tour the wine estates of the Western Cape. Coupling fantastic wine with culinary art.
Livestock is the largest agricultural sector in South Africa, with a population of some 13.8-million cattle and 28.8-million sheep. Both beef and dairy farming are incredibly successful throughout the country. The four major dairy breeds in South Africa being the Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey and Ayrshire. South Africa’s poultry & pig farms are more intensive than the sheep and cattle production and are found near metropolitan areas of SA. We also account for around 65% of world sales of ostrich products – leather, meat and feathers
Game Farming & Eco-Tourism
Much of the countries agricultural land is being set aside for managed wildlife reserves. This has resulted in an increase in the total amount of conserved land within South Africa. The value of preserving wildlife is fast becoming profitable and marginal areas are seeing increased productivity from activities such as eco-tourism and lodge accommodation. Many farms are turning from cattle to game farming (mostly antelope species) on a commercial basis. Game species are often better suited to the conditions and breed well when protected and properly managed.
The aquaculture industry in South Africa continues to make meaningful progress in cultivation technology, marketing strategy, marketing practice and scientific innovation. Mussels, trout, tilapia, catfish, oysters and waterblommetjies (Cape pondweed) are the major aquaculture species. Mussel farming occurs mainly at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape.
Mpumalanga one of the main avo producing areas within South Africa. Numerous avocado cultivars, such as Fuerte, Hass, Ryan, Pinkerton and Edranol, are available at different times of the year. Nearly half of the avocado production is exported, with international quality acclaim achieved by scientific production methods and excellent post-harvest technology. Europe is the main importer of avocados and most products found there in summer are of South Africa origin.
The Macadamia nut industry is the fastest-growing tree crop industry in South Africa and the country is ranked as a top producer in the world today. Mpumalanga and Kwa Zulu Natal produces virtually all of Southern Africa’s macadamia and pecan nuts. Nut produce includes traditional roasted nuts, nut butters, nougats, oils, pesto and pâtés.
The South African Sugar Industry is a world leader in the production of high-quality sugar. The diverse industry combines sugar cane cultivation with the industrial factory production of raw and refined sugar, syrups and specialised sugars, and a range of by-products. Sugar cane flourishes under irrigation in the southern parts of Mpumalanga and in Kwa Zulu Natal. The sugar industry is an important provider of jobs in the rural areas.
Much of South Africa’s development in the forestry sector has been accelerated by the utilisation of forestry reserves. The Mpumalanga Lowveld escarpment is the primary commercial forest area in South Africa and accounts for a large proportion of South African commercial forestry. Commercial forests occur along the province’s borders with Swaziland in the south, and the Kruger National Park in the north-east, with the area around Sabie in the north being regarded as the centre of forestry.