South Africa: Bumper agro exports could exceed last year’s R140 bln mark

This year, South Africa’s agricultural exports could exceed 2020’s $10.2 billion (R140.2 bln) as there have been large production volumes of various crops and fruits -as well as a sound output in the wool industry.

Chief economist Wandile Sihlobo from the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) said yesterday that the country’s agricultural imports increased marginally by 4 percent year-on-year to $1.6 bln in the first quarter.

He told the agricultural sector had a good start to 2021, with favourable rainfall supporting crop yields. According to him, this was the second consecutive season of strong performance for the sector after 2020 saw bumper harvests and the second-largest export earnings on record of $10.2 bln. With 2021 set to present even larger yields than 2020 for major field crops, horticulture and the wine industry, Agbiz believed that exports could surpass last year’s levels.

In the first quarter of this year, the top exportable products included fresh grapes, maize, fresh plums, fresh pears and fresh apples. The chamber expected these products to dominate the export list throughout the year, as the production promised to exceed last year’s levels.

The Citrus Growers’ Association recently projected that the South African citrus industry would probably break all previous export season records, with an estimated 159 million cartons in 2021, from 146 million cartons in 2020.

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