Western Cape contributes 22% to farm employment in SA but AGOA remains a threat


“Agriculture in the Western Cape continues to create jobs in a tough environment,” said Western Cape Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer.

Minister Meyer was commenting on StatsSA’s latest release of South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) which confirmed South Africa’s official unemployment rate of 32.6% in the second quarter of 2023.

The Western Cape had the lowest official unemployment rate of 20.9% when compared to other provinces in the second quarter of 2023, followed by the Northern Cape


At the national level, the primary agricultural sector (inclusive of Forestry and Fisheries) recorded a positive employment annual growth rate of 2% (21 000 jobs) in the second quarter of 2023 on a year-on-year (y/y) and 1% (7 000 jobs) quarter-on-quarter (q/q).

The increase in farm employment was driven by a significant share in the Western Cape (22%), Kwa-Zulu Natal (17%) and Limpopo (17%) in the second quarter of 2023.

Agriculture’s growth in employment can be attributed to increased farm-level activities; replanting winter crops, coupled with the decent production in field crops, forestry, aquaculture, citrus fruit and blueberry harvest dominant in the Western Cape.

From the second quarter of 2021, the Western Cape employment numbers showed a rebound from a low base in 2020. Overall, the provincial agricultural employment number went up by 9% when compared to the same quarter last year. The Western Cape agri-processing employment numbers increased by 9.5% (10 011) in the second quarter of 2023 on a year-on-year basis.

Minister Meyer highlighted that the agricultural sector is currently facing a myriad of challenges. These include poor port and logistics performance, load-shedding affecting irrigation schedules, avian influenza outbreak, volatility caused by weather conditions and animal health and biosecurity. Despite this, the sector remains important as the employer at the farm level and along the value chains through agri-processing activities.

Minister Meyer said, “South Africa is the net exporter of the major crops and more investment has been directed towards increasing production and productivity of these crops which have the potential to create more jobs.”

Minister Meyer continued, “Sadly, the agricultural exports from South Africa to the USA under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) preference include citrus fruit, nuts, wine, grapes and ice cream are at risk.”

“Most of these products are dominantly produced in the Western Cape and the potential exclusion of South Africa from the eligibility list in 2025 would mean losing 9% citrus export market share. This would influence primary jobs created through the production of the major export products to the USA under the AGOA preference,” concluded Minister Meyer.

Media Enquiries

Daniel Johnson

Spokesperson for Minister Ivan Meyer

Tel: 079 990 4231

Email: Daniel.Johnson@westerncape.gov.za


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