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  • Carbon tax is likely to be an effective way of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to climate change and have negative consequences for human life.

  • There was little of note in terms of new policy from the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, in her budget vote speech, but rather a sense of urgency to implementing land reform in a sustainable way.

  • South Africa and International News

  • Gabe Brown, a city boy from Bismark, North Dakota bought the farm of his in-laws in 1991. The farm grew small grains, mostly spring wheat, oats, and barley, using the conventional farming practices Brown’s predecessors had followed since 1956 – tilling (plowing) the land to seed and applying synthetic fertilizers and herbicides annually.

  • As the backbone of developing economies, agriculture not only serves to feed a nation but creates employment and, often, contributes significantly to the GDP.

  • Budding blueberry sector offers fruitful job prospects- South Africa .

  • EU: Spanish citrus group labels South African mandarins' high prices "absurd"

  • Many animal lovers flock to farms offering the opportunity to interact with a cub or walk with lions; but if you truly love animals, you need to give this disturbing industry a skip, explains FOUR PAWS South Africa’s country director, Fiona Miles.

  • South Africa’s livestock industry, recovering from the impact of a recent devastating drought and disease outbreak, is likely to create demand for feed additives thanks to an increasing population, a surge in demand for quality meat products and a spike in consumer spending, especially among the middle class.

  • Today’s data from South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) is important from both the summer and winter crops perspective.

  • Every day, local hunting outfitters and organizations receive a number of hostile e-mails and phone calls decrying their contribution to the deterioration of endangered animal species, begging them to rather focus on animal conservation, or bombarding them with threats.

  • Tree planting has been widely promoted as a solution to climate change, because plants absorb the climate-warming gases from Earth’s atmosphere as they grow.

  • US beef prices were mixed this week. Price for rump increased by 1.2% and chuck declined by 1.9% for the week.

  • Deputy President David Mabuza says government has offered support to farmers who were affected by drought in the Free State, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.

  • A presidential panel set up to investigate South Africa’s land reform plans has given the policy of expropriation without compensation the green light, but has attached strict conditions to it.

  • The global food system needs to change to make sure people have enough food to eat in 2050 without destroying the planet, according to “Creating a Sustainable Food Future,” a World Resources Report released July 17.

  • AnalOver 144 pages, the report traces a series of innovative interventions on land reform – including a register for all types of land ownership, a land reform fund and voluntary land donations by businesses, farmers and churches – as well as some controversial proposals.

  • Tree planting has been widely promoted as a solution to climate change, because plants absorb the climate-warming gases from Earth’s atmosphere as they grow.

  • Domestic cotton prices increased by 2.5%, following higher international cotton prices- South Africa.

  • The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey data (Q2: 2019) show that South Africa’s primary agricultural employment fell by 0.2% from the corresponding period last year to 842 000 .  The subsectors that faced a notable reduction were mainly field crops, the game industry and forestry. In the case of field crops, the reduction in employment was unsurprising following a reduction in activity in the fields on the back of a poor harvest in the 2018/19 season, all of which is underpinned by unfavourable weather conditions earlier in the season. From a regional perspective, a notable decline in employment was recorded in the Northern Cape, Free State and Limpopo, whilst other provinces saw a marginal uptick. 
    Will there be a change in the current jobs’ trajectory?
    The near-term agricultural jobs trajectory will be influenced by, amongst other factors, weather conditions, and levels of investment in the agricultural sector. As best as we can tell, there are prospects for good weather conditions in the coming months which could support agricultural activity and subsequent employment. But this might not assure levels of employment which far outpace the trends we have witnessed over the past few years, as illustrated in Figure 1. On an investment front, the outlook hinges on the broader policy direction of the agricultural sector, notably land reform and water rights. There are a number of developments on the land reform front at the moment, but the final policy direction will be an important determinant of the direction that South Africa’s agricultural sector will be taking. The same is true for water policy, and infrastructure thereafter.
    Even if we assume positive outcomes from the aforementioned factors in the coming months, the effects on jobs may be marginal. Fundamental change is needed to break away from the current trend, and to reach the targets of the agricultural job that are envisaged in the National Development Plan.1 By using the word – fundamental change – we are referring to (1) a need for a boost in agricultural productivity, (2) an improvement in rural investment climate, (3) expansion of export markets, (4) promotion of labour-intensive agriculture, and (5) expansion of area farmed where possible.
    At a practical level, if the underutilised land in the former homelands, underperforming land reform farms, and other parts of the country are not brought into full production with a key focus on labour-intensive subsectors, notable job creation in South Africa’s agriculture sector might not materialise. Labour-intensive subsectors specifically refer to the horticulture and field crop subsectors which currently employ two-thirds of the primary agriculture labour force of 842 000. The other subsector – livestock – can also be prioritised, specifically in areas where environmental factors do not permit horticulture and field crops. This would all happen at a time where there is a growing demand for horticultural, and protein-rich diets in the global market which is underpinned by the changing consumer patterns towards healthier diets. Moreover, global beef demand is also gathering steam, particularly driven by China. All this presents an opportunity for South Africa to partially address its twin challenges of rural unemployment and low economic growth.
    South Africa is still lagging behind in its effort of meeting a target of creating a million agricultural jobs by 2030 as envisaged in the National 
    provinces containing former homelands that still have tracts of underutilised, arable land that can be prioritised for agricultural expansion are KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.These provinces collectively have between 1.6 million to 1.8 million hectares of underutilised land, according to a 2015 study by McKinsey Global Institute.
    Also, worth noting is that these particular provinces are characterised by higher levels of unemployment and poverty, which in our view, would make sense for the government to prioritise them for agricultural development in the near term. As noted above, the starting point for this process would be to articulate a clear policy framework on land reform and water rights, which will encourage investment in the agricultural sector. Concerted investments would be required for land preparations and provision of irrigation infrastructure, amongst other aspects, to unlocking growth and employment, and associated positive welfare effects.
    The focus for provinces that already have extensive farming could be on ensuring that there are export markets for products being produced. Further, the ports infrastructure for delivering the agricultural produce to export markets should be part of the “fundamental change” to boost South Africa’s agricultural fortunes and jobs. This is specifically the case to, but not limited, the Western Cape. The province is a leading agricultural jobs creator, but for that to be sustained, there must be market access for the produce of the province. Animal and plant health as key pillars of trade need consistent attention. The effects of animal health were felt earlier this year in the livestock sector, specifically in the wool and beef industries, where a lapse in biosecurity controls severely compromised the industries' export potential. Overall, the quest for boosting employment in South Africa’s agricultural sector will need various interventions. Fortunately, many of these are within the policymakers’ reach.

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