By Thys Khiba
Bloemfontein – The Free State MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, William Bulwane says that the agriculture sector remains an important sector for job creation in the Free State province.
While speaking about economic transformation and job creation, MEC Bulwane indictacted that the province is the third biggest provider of formal jobs at 9.4%.
He continued to say that it is essential to note that Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality is the 3rd biggest income generating district in the country with R17 billion and the biggest agricultural employer in the province with 27 022 employees, followed by Lejweleputswa with 22 559, Fezile Dabi with 12 689, Xhariep with 8 110 and Mangaung Metro with 4 749.
“As the Premier of the Free State, Hon. Sefora Ntombela, has said during the State of the Province Address, approximately 14.5% of South Africa’s commercial farming takes place in the province. Agriculture contributes 5% to provincial economic activity, higher than the national average of 3%. The Agricultural sector in the province is an important sector for job creation and the province is the third biggest provider of formal jobs at 9.4%,” said MEC Bulwane.
With the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agriculture sector was the only economic sector which maintained a positive economic growth during the hard lockdown (15.1% during quarter 2) and remained the only sector with a positive contribution to GDP in the third quarter of 2020.
“Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries sectors’ quarter three (Q3) 2020 growth rate nationally was 18.5%, valued at R79.4 billion, and its contribution to overall national growth was 0.6%.”
When it comes to Grains, Free State remains the biggest contributor in the country. Meanwhile, the Livestock production is another major contributor in the Agricultural Sector in the province.
“During the 2019/20 crop production season the Free State produced 45.2% (1st) of the Maize crop, 56.4% (1st) of the Sunflower crop, 41.7% (1st) of the Soyabean crop, 30.7% (2nd) of Groundnuts, 22.3% (3rd) of Sorghums and 46.3% (1st) of Dry beans at national level. For Wheat, the final estimate for the 2020 season stands at 19.6% (2nd) of the national Wheat crop.”
MEC Bulwane indicated that livestock numbers for the Free State make up 20% of the national flock of Sheep, Cattle 17%, Pigs 8%, Poultry 6%, Goats 4% and Ostrich 4%. The Free State slaughtered about 19% of cattle, 16% of the sheep and 7% of the pigs slaughtered nationally.
“As alluded by the Honourable Premier, in her State of the Province Address (SOPA), for the Agricultural sector in the province, it is not easy. In 2020 the raging veldt fires caused massive damages on several farms in the Lejweleputswa district, leaving farmers with huge losses on infrastructure, game animals, livestock, grazing lands and water reticulation.”
More than 100 farms were burnt which affected more than 53 farmers to an estimated total of 100 000 hectares.
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