In order to monitor trends and to make good decisions at all levels of responsibility (both within and without of the Department) good and reliable “data” or statistics is necessary. It is unfortunate that for various reasons the consistency of the agricultural economics database currently needs to be addressed as spurious claims are often made regarding various important agricultural issues. It follows that it is necessary to develop a comprehensive agricultural economics database in order to monitor certain actual trends in the agricultural sector.
The history of agricultural statistics in South Africa goes back as far back as the beginning of the 20th century. With the exception of the World Wars and great depression years, an agricultural census was conducted on annual basis in the first half of the 20th century. As agriculture’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) decreased over the years, so did the frequency of conducting agricultural censuses. Post 1994, agricultural censuses have been conducted on a five yearly basis, with annual surveys being conducted in between the census years. Until now, agricultural censuses and surveys have largely concentrated on commercial agriculture leaving out small-scale and subsistence agriculture.
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