SA GDP growth down to 0.2%, farmers still positive


The worst drought in over 100 years saw the agriculture sector contract by 14 percent, said StatsSA.

JOHANNESBURG - Agriculture economists say they're not surprised at Tuesday's GDP figures.

The sector has been hard hit by the ongoing drought that's seen an almost 30 percent drop in volumes.

After releasing its Agricultural Outlook for 2017, Absa Agri-Business says things are looking up for next year.

READ: GDP grinds to virtual halt in third quarter

Ernst Janovsky says, "It's been a tough year for us - if you really speak to farmers out there, they have gone through a drought, economically we have gone through blow outs in the exchange rate."

That in essence sums up the year for South African farmers. According to Absa Agribusiness, the drought has been one of the worst to date.

"If you just look at agriculture we went down by about 30 percent in terms of our GDP contribution - we dragged down the GDP, if you look at the third quarter and why we didnt grow as a country its because of agriculture not performing and that is purely the drought."

One cannot speak about the agriculture sector without using the word drought, something the sector has been struggling to recover from since last year.

In the latest GDP figures, growth was only at 0.2 percent, that's down from the 3.3 percent recorded in the second quarter.

The drought severely shook the South African economy, but economists expect a full recovery in 2017.

"If you really look at the new season its been raining but not above average but what we see now is purely that the prices have come down substantially and consumers can have a bit of lower food inflation so there's a lot of postives for them."

Absa Agri-Business says while farmers were extremely frustrated and discouraged during the drought season, many of them are now more positive as the rains begin to fall again.