In Tshwane, chickens rule the roost, while Northern Cape is more sheepish

Livestock farming is the biggest money-spinner in agriculture

24 March 2020 - 14:49 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
StatisticsSA says livestock farming is the biggest contributor to the agricultural economy.
StatisticsSA says livestock farming is the biggest contributor to the agricultural economy.
Image: Justinjerez/ Wikimedia Commons

There's a clear winner for the nation's taste buds: South Africans bought just over a billion chickens (yes, that is 1,000-million) in one year.

Next were cattle (3.6-million), sheep (3.1-million) and pigs (2.2-million).

This is according to the Census of Commercial Agriculture, released by Stats SA on Tuesday, based on 2017 data.

A few geographical areas dominate key livestock markets, Stats SA said.

Tshwane in Gauteng sold one in every five chickens nationwide, and the Sarah Baartman district in Eastern Cape sold 39% of SA’s goats.

Sheep in the Northern Cape's Pixley ka Seme district outnumber people six-to-one, Stats SA found.

Covering an area of just over 100,000 square kilometres, the district includes towns such as Victoria West, De Aar and Colesburg.

“The almost 202,000 people who live there are not alone. The district is also home to 1.3-million sheep, the highest population of sheep in the country,” said Stats SA.

With 8-million sheep living on commercial farms nationwide, Pixley ka Seme boasts 16% of the national sheep population.

Right now, if a natural disaster happened in Gauteng’s West Rand district, 31% of the nation’s carrot crop would be at risk.

Stats SA said this area produced 69,638 tonnes of carrots in 2017, contributing 31% to SA’s total production of 226,017 tonnes. Together with much smaller carrot crops in Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng and Tshwane, Gauteng as a whole contributed 35% to national production.

Other big hitters:

  • Bojanala Platinum in North West produced 44% of the nation’s beetroot.
  • Ehlanzeni in Mpumalanga produced 67% of SA’s bananas. The district was also responsible for 57% of macadamia nut production.
  • Overberg in Western Cape produced 40% of our apples.
  • Mopani in Limpopo produced 43% of the country’s avocados, 25% of its oranges and 64% of its mangoes.
  • Lejweleputswa in Free State produced 23% of the national potato crop. It is also the leading maize producer, responsible for 21% of SA’s crop.
  • The Thabo Mofutsanyane district in Free State is the leading producer of sunflower seeds, churning out almost a quarter of all seeds produced nationwide.

  • Cape winelands in Western Cape produced 60% of the nation’s grapes.
  • Ostrich sales were concentrated in the Eden district (which includes Oudtshoorn) in Western Cape, responsible for 57% of national sales.
  • The nation’s pineapple crop is concentrated in the Sarah Baartman district in Eastern Cape, with 63%. This district also was responsible for 35% of national lemon production.

SA’s biggest horticultural products in 2017 were potatoes, oranges, grapes and apples.

The top five field crop products produced nationally by commercial agriculture in 2017 were maize, sugar cane, lucerne, wheat and soya beans.

Not only does the Overberg district in Western Cape produce a lot of our apples, it also strongly dominates the production of barley, responsible for 81% of production nationwide. Overberg is also the leading producer of wheat, responsible for 16% of national output (by volume).

The money, however, is in cattle.

The Stats SA report revealed that livestock farming is the biggest contributor to the economy of the agricultural industry, with revenue of R120.8bn (36% of the total).

According to the report, the total income for the commercial agriculture industry in 2017 was R332.8bn.

“In 2017, the major contributor to total income was livestock farming at R120.8bn, followed by mixed farming (R95bn) and horticulture (R65.7bn),” said Stats SA.

The province contributing the most income in 2017 was the Western Cape with R64bn, followed by the Free State at nearly R47bn, North West more than R39bn, Mpumalanga R38bn and KwaZulu-Natal R34bn.

The province with the most farms in 2017 was the Free State with 7,951, followed by the Western Cape, North West and Northern Cape.

The provinces with the fewest farms in 2017 were Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

The report shows that the total number of farms/farming units involved in the commercial agriculture industry in 2017 was 40,122.

Most farms produced livestock, followed by mixed farming and field crops.

The report said the number of people employed in commercial agriculture at end June 2018 was 757,628, down 1.6% from 769,594 at February 28 2007.

The report recorded the Western Cape as the largest provincial employer in 2018, followed by Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. The provinces with the fewest commercial agriculture employees were Gauteng and North West.

The survey shows that in September 2018, the total land used for commercial agriculture was 46.4-million hectares, which represents 37.9% of the total land area of SA. Commercial agricultural land comprised mainly grazing land (36.5m  hectares) for livestock and game farming and arable land (7.6m hectares) for crop production.

The Northern Cape accounted for the largest share of the country’s commercial agricultural land (37%), followed by Free State (16.4%), Eastern Cape (12.3%) and North West (11.5%). Gauteng (0.8%) and Limpopo (3.7%) recorded the smallest shares.