Pie chart showing breakout of

South African Agricultural exports

South Africa Agriculture 1169In monetary terms, agriculture's share of the economy has long since been outstripped by those of the mining and secondary industries. In 1960, agriculture contributed 11.1 percent of the GDP, down from about 20 percent in the 1930s. By 1999, however, agriculture's share of the GDP had dropped to 5 percent. Despite the farming industry's declining share of the GDP, it remains vital to the economy, development, and stability of the Southern African region. The various sectors of the industry employ approximately 1 million people, or 30 percent of the workforce.

Agriculture in South Africa has changed radically in recent years. Formerly, it was a highly regulated sector with subsidies and financial concessions available to farmers. But farming has been deregulated since the 1980s, and the agricultural sector is now expected to respond to free market conditions. Farmers seek the most competitive suppliers and purchasers and are increasingly using the South African Futures Exchange to exchange futures contracts and hedge prices for their products.

South Africa has what is known as a dual agricultural economy. On the one hand, there is a well-developed commercial sector; on the other hand, the majority of people engaged in agriculture are involved in subsistence-oriented practices in rural areas. In the predominantly white-controlled commercial sector, applied research and improved farm management have nearly doubled agricultural production during the past 30 years. Currently, South Africa is not only self sufficient in virtually all major agricultural products but in a normal year is also a net food exporter, making it 1 of 6 countries in the world capable of exporting food on a regular basis. Because South Africa's summer harvest season coincides with winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the country is well positioned to supply agricultural goods to a number of wealthy countries in the more developed world.

South Africa has developed 1 of the largest man-made forestry resources in the world. These plantations cover more than 1.4 million hectares with exports accounting for 35 percent of total turnover of forestry products. The 2 private pulp and paper manufacturers rank among the largest companies of their kind in the Southern hemisphere.

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