Decrease in agricultural sector employment a worrying sign

Agri SA is distressed by the decrease in agricultural sector employment as reported by Stats SA in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Q4: 2022. The report, released on 28 February 2023, shows a decrease of 12,000 jobs in the agricultural sector.

Though the loss of jobs is marginal for now, it points to the increasingly challenging environment in which farmers operate. The sector has shown itself to be remarkably resilient and was counted among the best performing sectors even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the tide is turning for one of the country’s most labour-intensive sectors – rising input costs, endemic load shedding, and crumbling infrastructure is placing severe strain on the agricultural sector. The commitments made by the President in the recent SONA need to be an immediate priority to help save jobs and guarantee the nation’s food security.

Clarity is needed on the regulations published for the State of Disaster on the energy crisis by the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. While food production and storage have been included as essential infrastructure, detail is needed as to what this entails and what relief it will provide for farmers.

Moreover, the extension of the diesel levy rebate must be accompanied by the fast-tracking of the processing of claims and a reduction in the onerous red tape currently hampering the system. This is the only way to alleviate the ongoing burden of loadshedding on farmers, preserving critical rural jobs.

Urgent action is needed to protect this sector and Agri SA remains committed to ensuring support for the sector so we can continue to provide both food security and livelihoods at this challenging time for South Africans.

Media enquiries:

Johan Wege Chair of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence: Labour C: 082 337 4520

Christo van der Rheede Agri SA, Chief Executive Officer C: 083 380 3492