Home South African Jobs in SA agriculture rose by 50% in 13 years – report

Jobs in SA agriculture rose by 50% in 13 years – report

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The Macroeconomic Digest Labour Report for May 2024 has showed that employment in the agriculture sector increased by 50% on a long-term basis, from 627,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2011 to 941,000 in the first quarter of this year.

In the first quarter of this year, the number of men and women actively involved in agriculture was 641,000 and 300,000, respectively. Picture: Tracey Adams, Independent Newspapers

THE MACROECONOMIC Digest Labour Report for May 2024 has showed that employment in the agriculture sector increased by 50% on a long-term basis, from 627,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2011 to 941,000 in the first quarter of this year.

The report, published by the National Agricultural Marketing Council (Namc) this week, provides an overview of employment figures by industry, province and gender composition in the agricultural sector.

The figures were based on data obtained from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) Quarterly Labour Force Survey published on Tuesday.

According to the Namc, agriculture employed about 5.6% of the employed pool compared to the overall employment in South Africa in the first quarter of this year, making the sector essential in the labour force.

“However, there are periods when agricultural employment declined,” reads the report.

“These periodic decreases can be attributed to seasonal employment, as farmers tend to hire more workers during specific periods of a particular marketing season.”

According to Namc, the data from Stats SA showed that men have been the primary participants in the agriculture sector from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2024.

Namc said the number of men and women actively involved in agriculture was 641,000 and 300,000, respectively, in the first quarter of this year.

“During the first quarter of 2024, the number of women increased by 8,000 (2.8%), while the number of men increased by 13,000 (2.1%) compared to the previous quarter,” it said.

“When combining both genders, the number of people employed in agriculture increased by 21,000 (2.3%) for the first quarter of 2024.”

Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said while agriculture has had a rough start to the year, characterised by El Niño-induced drought, the employment conditions remained encouraging.

Sihlobo said the current data showed that jobs generally increased across most sub-sectors of agriculture in the first quarter compared with the corresponding period last year.

He said the decline in employment was only in the production of organic fertilisers, fishing, and fish hatcheries.

“Again, this could indicate the potential delay before the sub-sectors heavily impacted by the mid-summer dryness fully reflected the financial impact and subsequent jobs effect,” Sihlobo said.

“We may have a complete picture of such in the second quarter jobs data.”

Sihlobo said the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Gauteng, and Mpumalanga were behind the annual uptick in agricultural employment.

“These provinces broadly comprised various agricultural commodities or value chains. Thus, the uptick in jobs is not primarily on the back of a particular value chain but spread across a range,” he said.

Surprisingly, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo were amongst the provinces that recorded a mild decline in employment in the first quarter compared to last year.

“These provinces are amongst those that hold significant shares of horticulture production, which benefited from the irrigation throughout the harsh mid-summer season,” Sihlobo said.

“Meanwhile, the mild reduction in employment in the Free State could be somewhat explained by the province’s vast grains and oilseed production and the expected decline in production because of the drought.”

– BUSINESS REPORT

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