South Africa has one of the most diverse agricultural sectors and certainly some of the best farmers in the world. They continue to produce a steady amount of food despite crumbling national infrastructure, a harsh climate, rampant crime and rapidly rising input costs. Although we are proud to be a net exporter of food, the country is by no means food secure, since around 11 per cent of the population still goes to bed hungry every day. While the importance of a thriving agricultural industry that can produce affordable food is not lost on us, I wonder how high a priority the farming sector is for the rest of the population, specifically those who make the decisions that can boost or bust food production.
In this issue of Agriculture, we look at gaps in the sector that need to be addressed to ensure stable food production continues and we show examples of enterprises making great strides in addressing challenges within the sector. Reading through this edition, it is clear that South Africa’s agricultural sector is resilient but not bulletproof. We take it for granted that we are able to produce an abundance of food and be a net exporter in a country that is considered arid. The fact that we don’t have to rely on imports and the whims of global markets for a plate of food is severely understated. Those in the seats of power need to take a closer look at the remarkable work happening in agriculture, seek out the gaps where greater strides can be made, and create an environment that is conducive to increased production, transformation and inclusion of all farmers – emerging, small and large.
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