Steep decline in agricultural gross value added attributed to biosecurity issues

The recent release of GDP figures revealing a 12.2% decline in the agricultural sector has sent shockwaves through the industry. While some anticipated a modest contraction, this steep downturn has caught many off guard. The primary culprit behind this unexpected downturn lies in the struggles of the livestock and poultry subsector.  

Livestock and poultry play a pivotal role, comprising half of the agricultural sector’s value. However, the sector has been besieged by challenges, particularly stemming from animal diseases. The sector suffered from outbreaks of animal diseases like foot-and-mouth disease, avian influenza, and African swine fever. These issues have had far-reaching consequences, exerting significant downward pressure on agricultural output. 

Furthermore, the sector grapples with enduring structural challenges, including the debilitating effects of load-shedding, logistical bottlenecks, and escalating input costs. These systemic issues compound the woes faced by livestock and poultry producers, exacerbating the sector’s overall decline. 

In light of these grim realities, it becomes evident that concerted efforts are needed to address the multifaceted challenges plaguing the agricultural sector. Government, organised agriculture, and industry bodies should work together closely to address the country’s biosecurity challenges. Urgent interventions are required to bolster resilience, mitigate risk, and foster sustainable growth. Only through collaborative action and strategic initiatives can we navigate these turbulent times and chart a path toward a more prosperous future for agriculture.

AgriSA Economics

7 March 2024

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