Pretoria: Nearly three million households in South Africa are engaged in agricultural activities, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) says.
The data, which shows that 2.9 million households were involved in agriculture in 2011, stems from the Agricultural Households Release, which was released by Stats SA on Monday.
According to the report, 24.9% of agricultural households are located KwaZulu-Natal, while 20.7% and 16.3% are in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo respectively.
The Northern Cape and the Western Cape had the lowest percentage of households involved in agricultural activities.
The Eastern Cape, noted the report, had the highest number of households that reported livestock ownership at 33.2%, while the North West, at 35.9%, had the highest proportion of agricultural households engaged in poultry production.
The highest number of agricultural households in vegetable production was reported in the Free State at 36.6%.
Animals only production constituted the major form of household agricultural activity in most provinces, with the exception of Western Cape, Free State and Gauteng. Crops only production was the second most dominantly reported activity.
Mpumalanga, at 31.5%, Limpopo at 30.5% and KwaZulu-Natal at 27.1% were the provinces with the highest number of agricultural household heads that had no schooling.
The provinces of Limpopo and the Eastern Cape had the highest number of agricultural household heads with no income.
The report noted that the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal had a higher proportion of females involved in agriculture.
Statistician General Pali Lehohla noted that it was mostly elderly people who were involved in agricultural activity.
The report presents the status of the agriculture based South African household, as depicted in the population census of 2011. The information that is presented in the report is a result of three questions related to agriculture that were included in the Census 2011 questionnaire.
Lehohla said that agriculture played a role in the South African economy, with agriculture, forestry and fishing contributing 2.2% to the country’s gross domestic product on an annual basis.
The Statistician General further noted that South Africa had a very weak base in relation to agricultural statistics.
“That weak base doesn’t bode well for a greening economy, concerns around the environment and agriculture as a sector that may actually assist in resolving unemployment. The sector has been generating jobs consistently over the last seven quarters,” said Lehohla.
He said the country has never had an agricultural census in subsistence agriculture. “There are no statistics in subsistence agriculture in SA… there’s very little known about subsistence farming.
“We are facing a situation where there is the greening of the economy and the environment, and that doesn’t bode well for our information base in agriculture,” said Lehohla.
He added that Stats SA is looking into prospects of conducting an agriculture census — both for commercial and subsistence farming — and is in discussions with the Department of Agriculture and National Treasury.
The report did not make a clear distinction between commercial and subsistence farming.