3 February 2012
South Africa remains a net a food exporter, selling 30% more agricultural goods abroad than it imported in 2010, according to the latest South Africa Survey, published last month by the SA Institute of Race Relations.
According to the survey by the Johannesburg-based institute, South Africa’s agricultural exports grew by 10% between 2008 and 2010, with total agricultural exports amounting to US$6.8-billion in 2010. During the same period, agricultural imports increased by just less than 1% and amounted to $5.2-billion.
Agricultural exports stood at 5% of South Africa’s total exports in 2010, with agricultural imports accounting for 2% of total imports.
The institute’s analysis was based on data supplied by the Foreign Agricultural Service at the United States Department of Agriculture.
Netherlands SA’s biggest export destination
The data revealed that the Netherlands was South Africa’s largest agricultural export destination, accounting for a little over 10% of South Africa’s total such exports in 2010, worth $700-million.
Between 2008 and 2010, the demand for South African agricultural exports grew in Asia and Africa, while the proportion of such exports going to European countries declined.
Argentina has remained South Africa’s largest source of agricultural imports since 2008, the survey found. However, the proportion of such imports from Argentina has fallen, from 17% in 2008 to 12% in 2010, when they were worth $628-million.
Demand for SA produce ‘growing’
The ratio of South Africa’s agricultural imports to exports has increased since the mid-1960s, when the ratio of imports to exports stood at 1 to 5. In the decade between 1995 and 2005, the ratio of agricultural imports to exports stood at 2 to 3.
In 2007, agricultural imports temporarily exceeded agricultural exports by a ratio of 11 to 10.
“Recent data indicates that demand for South African agricultural products is not only holding steady, but is in fact growing,” Jonathan Snyman, a researcher at the institute, said in a statement.
“Food security is an especially precarious state of affairs in sub-Saharan Africa, so it is a positive development that South Africa has maintained its status as a net agricultural exporter.”