The Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry sector has created thousands of jobs over the past financial year, despite the tough economic climate.
This is according to Minister Senzeni Zokwana who said that during the third quarter of 2015, the number of smallholders increased by 743 and agro-processing sales grew by 8.4 percent.
Jobs in the sector increased by 211 000 in the third quarter of 2015 as compared to the same period in 2014.
“As part of our resolve to bring under-utilised lands into production, in the 2014/15 financial year, 136 253 hectares of land were put under production of maize, wheat, beans, vegetables and fruit, among others, through the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and Ilima/Letsema,” he said.
In the year ahead, the department aims to plant on 150 000 hectares of land through the CASP and Ilima/Letsema. He said R880 million will be set aside for this purpose.
Minister Zokwana said that in all three sectors – agriculture, forestry and fisheries – the value of exports has increased and South Africa maintains a positive trade balance.
“The value of agriculture, forestry and fisheries exports increased from R135 billion in 2014 to R144 billion in 2015.
“In the same period, our exports into other African countries increased from R59 billion to R62 billion and into Asia from R34.5 billion to R37.1 billion.
“The department will continue to focus on increasing intra-African trade and other global trade opportunities,” he said.