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Top 12 major issues in agriculture

On 1 December the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) hosted the CEO Forum Meeting, to discuss each sector's challenges and opportunities. John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz, gave an overview of the major issues that are currently affecting agriculture in South Africa.

Top 12 major issues in agriculture
©mario bonotto via 123RF

List of top 12 issues

• Consumer trends and activism
• Competitiveness of commodities and value chains
• Investment environment and finance
• Rate and impact of technological development
• Increased regulation of agro-food system: policy uncertainty
• Climate change, water availability and droughts
• Sustainable and productive use of land and water
• Demand-side management (trade agreements, etc.)
• Biosecurity (grain and oilseeds, fruit, poultry, red meat, etc.)
• Skilled personnel and labour, basic education
• Infrastructure collapse in rural areas
• Safety and security on farms

Issues discussed briefly

Consumer trends: He emphasised that consumer trends and activism are shaping the way food is produced, for example, with regards to animal welfare, inputs used in primary production and ingredients used in processing.

Traceability: Traceability in animal production in South Africa is necessary to improve meat exports.

Technology: With technology developing faster than ever, the skills needed to make use of this technology is essential. It also influences research and development. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is something to keep an eye on in agriculture and agro-processing.

Climate change: Purchase said that there was concern over disaster management in the country, especially when it comes to drought.

Renewable energy: Energy security can be improved by renewable energy sources. Purchase gave an example of GWK in rural areas that are affected by electricity that is being cut off due to municipalities not paying Eskom. In some areas, water is also being cut off.

Job losses: Approximately 109,000 jobs have been lost, especially in the Western Cape, due to the drought affecting seasonal employment.


AgriOrbit is a product of Centurion-based agricultural magazine publisher Plaas Media. Plaas Media is an independent agricultural media house. It is the only South African agricultural media house to offer a true 360-degree media offering to role-players in agriculture. Its entire portfolio is based on sound content of a scientific and semi-scientific nature.
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