State of the Nation Address Reaffirms the Importance of SA's Agri Sector
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, made a State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 10 February 2022. SONA is an annual high level presidential speech to the nation extensively highlighting key policies and programmes that the government intends to focus on during the year. Traditionally, this speech is complemented by a budget speech made by the Minister of Finance some days later. A budget speech was therefore made on 23 February 2022.
The SONA shows that Agriculture continues to be rated as one of the leading industries in the South Africa economy. Earlier this year, the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz) reported that the country’s business confidence has “actually returned to and exceeded pre-pandemic levels”. Within the agricultural industry, this confidence has been boosted by good rains, record high harvests and returns and the fact that it was not negatively affected by COVID-19 restriction. Agriculture was the only industry that experienced positive growth during the pandemic.
The speech re-emphasized the significance of Masters Plans which the government developed few years ago to strengthen the local agricultural industries such as sugarcane and poultry.
Through agricultural land reform projects steered by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development the government aspires to strengthen about 250 000 small scale farmers in 2022.
The 23 February Budget Speech did not specify allocations to sectors under the country’s ministerial portfolios. Instead, it highlighted areas where expenditure will receive more attention. Improving the country’s road, rail and water infrastructural systems; leaving fuel levy unincreased; and strengthening support to small businesses, were the areas which, according to analysts, resonate with the current critical needs in the agricultural sector.
Full versions of the 10 February SONA and 23 February 2022 Budget Speech can be downloaded from here: