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Agriculture is a privilege

A message from Etienne Erasmus, MD of Netafim South Africa

We are privileged to work in agriculture. I am now more convinced of this than ever before. The challenges we faced in 2020 reminded us that the agricultural industry is the backbone of the South African economy and that what our industry creates allows our population to live, trade and prosper.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the many other challenges we faced in 2020 were significant on the country, the agricultural industry, and our communities.

The country’s GDP decreased by more than 16% between the first and second quarters of 2020. This was, of course, due to the effects of the COVID-19 business lockdown, on top of the continued pressure on our local economy. This translated to a 51% drop in the adjusted and annualised GDP. This drop was followed by a 66.1% recovery in the third quarter as the impact of the pandemic eased. Although this represents a major recovery, following the massive decline in the second quarter, overall growth for the first three quarters of 2020 remained negative with a -7.9% decline compared to the same period in 2019.

Among continued negative economic news, the agricultural light continued to shine. According to BFAP, the agricultural industry was the economy’s lone positive contributor with a 15.1% growth from quarter one to quarter two in 2020. In real terms this translates to an 8.9% growth compared to 2019. This was followed by another good quarter with 9.5% growth in the third quarter.

At Netafim, we appreciate how privileged we are to contribute to a sector that can collectively manage positive results in contrast to a declining economic trend. One of the main subsectors we are involved in, is the Horticulture sector. This sector reported a 17% year on year growth in gross value of production (GPV) in the second quarter and a 10% year on year growth in the third quarter. This was supported by 38% and 7% year on year gains in GPV for the citrus industry in the second and third quarters respectively. We are proud to support these industries and all other agricultural subsectors.

Of course, none of this can be achieved without the diligence and willpower of farmers and other role players in the industry. It is their hard work and confidence towards continued investment in current activities and future developments that allows the industry to thrive.

Towards the end of last year, I paid visit to Groblersdal, approximately 32km north of Loskop Dam. This area forms part of the second largest irrigation community in South Africa. Against the backdrop of a year in which we were overwhelmed by news about corruption, crime, and many other negativities, I was stunned by these farmers’ diligent work. The area is a beehive of activity from first to last light and beyond. I know this is the case in all our farming communities.

I know our farmers face many challenges and they may want to lose hope. But I believe they understand the responsibility they have towards themselves, their families, and our entire country. This drives them to continue to contribute towards food security, economic growth, and job opportunities. Thank you. 

Thank you also to all role players in the irrigation industry – dealers, designers and everyone involved. 

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