South Africa’s agricultural sector remains a crucial contributor to the country’s economy, according to the president of the Grain Handling Organisation of Southern Africa (GOSA), Hein Rehr.
Speaking at the organisation’s 38th symposium in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, Rehr highlighted the importance of the agricultural sector in keeping the country’s doors open for exports.
“Agriculture alone will not bring the country back to where it was. The private sector will have to intervene drastically and hands will have to be joined with organised agriculture so that the economy can begin to perform again,” Rehr said.
Stakeholders must step in
The symposium, which celebrated GOSA’s 40th anniversary, focused on providing impetus to the grain industry in a post-pandemic era. The event featured a keynote speech from independent energy analyst Chris Yelland, who called for commitment from stakeholders to put an end to the country’s ongoing electricity load shedding.
Yelland stated that a blackout was unlikely, but stakeholders must take ownership of their energy future to prevent it. “Customers, including those in the agricultural sector, should take ownership of their energy future and become part of the solution. Several steps can be taken to prevent this,” he said.
Other speakers at the event included Dawie Maree of FNB Agriculture, Dr André van der Vyver of the South African Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association (SACOTA), and Japie Snyman of Olam Agri.
Focus on exports
Maree highlighted the resilience of the agriculture sector, stating that the industry had performed 25% better in 2022 than in 2019, despite economic setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have to decide who we want to be. We need to stay relevant, adapt to stay in the market and stay informed. Focus on what you can control. Don’t look the other way if there is a problem. Be innovative and use what you can control and afford,” Maree said.
Van der Vyver emphasised the importance of the export market for the growth of the South African economy.
“The export market is extremely important to stimulate and grow the South African agriculture and economy. That’s why every aspect of exporting products is important to maintain profitability,” he said.
Snyman also emphasised the importance of the export market, stating that South Africa’s location provided a significant advantage in competing with the world’s top agricultural exporters.
Collaboration leads to growth
The symposium also featured a roundtable discussion led by Lourensa Eckard from kykNET, an Afrikaans-language DStv channel. The discussion focused on making the export of agricultural products more efficient, how banks can assist consumers of electricity in getting renewable energy, and the influence of load shedding and how to solve the problem.
Several panellists highlighted the importance of networking platforms, such as those provided by the GOSA Symposium, in facilitating conversation and collaboration in the industry.
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