- The share of farmed (farmed, not to be confused with owned) area by black farmers was 31% in 2002. This area produced less than 4% of field crops such as maize, wheat and sorghum.
- Similar to other sectors, the share of the country’s livestock held by black farmers had marginally decreased by 2002, particularly sheep and poultry, which were estimated at 10% and 29% respectively.
While the share contribution by black farmers to agricultural production seems minimal from this data, keep in mind that this was collected 15 years ago. There has definitely been progress in the recent past, driven by both government and the private sector.
The most recent estimates presented by trade economist Sifiso Ntombela of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) suggest that about 40% of cattle in South Africa is owned by emerging and communal black farmers, and I have highlighted recent progress that has been made in areas such as Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.
Essentially, agricultural economists should in future do a better job of maintaining credible databases of transformation and the progress of black farmers. That way we can avoid confusion when we discuss agricultural development policy issues, which will no doubt need to be addressed in the coming months given our current political and economic climate.
Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa.
This article was originally published on Agricultural Economics Today here.
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