I am pleased to note that StatsSA‘s release of South Africa’s third-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics highlights that the agricultural sector realised real economic growth of 18.5%, which was another excellent performance after the industry showed positive growth in the first and second quarters of 2020.
This performance confirms that the agricultural economy is making a strong recovery from several difficult seasons owing to droughts and limited market access for livestock exports. It is important to note that certain parts of the province will take some time to recover and are still experiencing severe drought.
Production performance of industries such as the horticulture subsector, which is significant to the Western Cape, has been good thus far. For the year-to-date, deciduous fruit income has grown significantly, as have citrus. Wine grapes and vegetable sales have also grown steadily.
The good harvest has also translated in excellent export volumes for South African fruit. When compared to the average export volumes between 2017 and 2019, lemons (+31%) and naartjies (+53%) exports have increased significantly in 2020, driven by a great harvest and a significant demand increase due to the demand for Vitamin C due to COVID-19.
Table grapes and apples had a decent volume growth of 6.9% and 7.3% respectively in 2020.
Although both bulk and bottled wine trail significantly behind the previous two-year average, there has been a steady improvement since the last quarter when volumes were 44% and 34% lower. Using the latest available statistics, which includes the month of November 2020, these declines have been reduced to -30% and -21% respectively.
It is hoped that this steady progress in international sales will open enough storage space for the 2021 grape harvest coming in the 1st quarter of 2021.
Agriculture remains firmly placed to lead economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape.