SA's farming income up 49.2 percent since 2002

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa's Gross Farming Income (GFI) has increased 49.2 percent since 2002, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported in their Census of Commercial Agriculture 2007.

Manager of Agricultural Statistics at Stats SA Moses Mnyaka told media on Tuesday that one of the key findings of the census which covers the period 1 March 2006 to 28 February 2007, is that GFI has increased from R53.3 billion in 2002 to R79.5 billion in 2007.

This increase, Mr Mnyaka said, represents an annualised growth rate of 8.3 percent since 2002.

The census takes a look at farming units within South Africa's agricultural sector and includes those commercial farms which are registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) and/or Income Tax (IT) for the financial year of 2006/07.

Other key findings from the census indicate, however, that while the GFI of farming in South Africa has increased, that the number of farming units in the country has decreased by 12.7 percent.

The number of farming units that were recorded in 2002 stood at 45 818, while in 2007 a total of 39 982 were recorded.

The number of paid workers in the agricultural sector has also declined quite significantly with a 15.9 percent drop in the number of farm workers since 2002, Mr Mnyaka highlighted.

The market value of farming assets, in part due to South Africa's land reform process which has inadvertadly pushed up the prices of farm land and housing has seen a massive increase of 81.5 percent from R98.4 billion in 2002, to R178.6 billion in 2007.

Mr Mnyaka explained that farming debt, which totalled R30.9 billion in 2002, had jumped 20.1 percent to R37.1 billion in 2007.

The rise in farmers debt levels can be attributed to bad harvests and less rain in the years leading up to 2007, he said.

According to the census, the Free State leads the country in terms of the number of farming units with 7 515 farms registered for VAT or IT, with the Western Cape coming in second with 6 682 farms.

The Western Cape is, however, leading the country's GFI figure with over R16.5 billion in income due to the profitability of the wine industry in the Cape. The Free State is the second biggest contributor to the GFI with over R11.9 billion earned in income for 2007.

Gauteng remains South Africa's smallest farming province with only 2 378 farming units concentrating mainly but not exclusively on seed and plant material.

Mr Mnyaka said the census is vital in the benchmarking of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its components, and production and price indices.

The census covered the following farming industries including the growing of field crops, fruit, grapes, nuts, seeds, trees in a nursery, bulbs, vegetables and flowers, as well as operations at nurseries excluding those predominantly engaged in reselling.