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Ten interesting facts about farming in South Africa

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Ten interesting facts about farming in South Africa

As one of the world’s oldest industries, farming has shaped society, as we know it today. This is especially true when you take South Africa into consideration. According to Statistics South Africa, three main powerhouses have driven farming in South Africa. These are Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape.

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As one of the most important sectors for employment, South African Government estimates that formal farming employment adds an extra 7% onto the nation’s GDP, in addition to the 3% already contributed by the primary agricultural sector.

Statistics like these make it fairly easy to see how farming has shaped our economy, but before we elaborate on farming in SA, we need to revisit how farming actually began.

A recap of where it all began
The word, “agriculture” comes from the Latin words, “agera” meaning field, and “cultūra” meaning cultivate. It is said that the first worldwide example of commercial farming began around 10 000 B.C. during the first Agricultural Revolution. Here, nomadic tribes began to farm in order to survive, adapting their crops to suit their available resources and seasonal changes.

Since then, there have been three Agricultural Revolutions in the history of farming. The first was discussed above and the second was when machinery was brought in to facilitate commercial farming between the 1700s and 1900s. The third Agricultural Revolution was the “Green Revolution”, marked by the 20th century, the advent of mass production, genetic modification and fertilizers.

Where does South Africa fit in?
Sure, it’s been an interesting evolution to get agriculture to where it is today, but in South Africa, we’ve faced a few farming developments of our own. Here are ten interesting facts that you might not have known about farming in South Africa:

  1. A 2011 South African Population Census carried out by Statistics South Africa showed that the province with the greatest percentage of farming households was the Eastern Cape with a total of 35.4%. This was closely followed by Limpopo with 33%.
  2. The same 2011 Census found that the Gross Farming Income of that year was R131,5 billion, making farming a somewhat lucrative realm.
  3. South Africa’s farming economy is considered to be a dual one. This is because it offers well-developed commercial farming as well as subsistence-based farming in more rural communities. Here, people farm to feed their families, selling surplus produce to make a small profit.
  4. According to the 2015 World Wildlife Foundation Report, only 13% of our nation’s land is arable and good for cultivating crops. The vast majority of our land, almost 69%, is used for grazing, which would explain why the farming of livestock is one of our most popular types of farming.
  5. The same 2015 WWF Report, mentioned above, stated that two thirds of South Africa’s surface water is used for irrigated agriculture practices. In addition to this, the availability of water presents a huge challenge for the South African farming sector.
  6. The WWF estimate that by 2030, the number of people employed by the farming industry will amount to over one million. This proposed increase will be up from that of the 2015 statistic of 638 000. This takes into account formal employment contracts only. The exact amount of informally employed farm workers is still unknown.
  7. South Africa is the world’s 13th largest sugar producer, and sugarcane is grown in 15 different places across the country. Only 50% of our sugar is sold here and the rest is exported to areas like Africa, Asia, the Middle East and America. This is according to Huletts Sugar, one of the biggest sugar manufacturers in the country.
  8. Fruit farming makes up a fair amount of South Africa’s farming practices. According to Eco-tunnels (a farming apparatus company) our varied landscape and climate makes the farming of specific kinds of fruit possible.
  9. Eco-tunnels also maintain that we are known worldwide for our citrus fruits that stem from Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Western and Eastern Capes. Much of this fruit ends up being exported to foreign markets and the rest makes its way onto local shelves.
  10. The farming industry isn’t without its dangers. From hazardous machinery and tools to treacherous conditions, protection has become an important part of farming. It’s why farming gumboots were created. Ever wondered why they have with a thicker sole and higher heel? It’s to prevent bites from poisonous snakes in crops like sugar cane. Thick PVC uppers offer workers protection against cuts from plant matter and machetes, whilst a higher boot adds an extra defense against bites from ticks.

The Wayne Agriculture and Forestry range was developed to offer reliable safety gumboots for the varying hazards found within these industries. As the largest manufacturer of gumboots in Africa, Wayne gumboots have found favour amongst workers on a global scale. For more information on this range and other specialist ranges, why not visit our website today www.wayne-safety.com or call us on +27 11 671 0200?


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