Cape Town-151221-Shoppers in Kenilworth Centre-Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

Johannesburg - South Africa's agriculture sector, which has been ravaged by the worst drought in recent times, has seen its input to gross domestic product (GDP) shrink by 14 percent.

This has prompted the Democratic Alliance (DA) to warn food may become “unaffordable”.

DA shadow minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Annette Steyn, on Wednesday said: “If we do not unite in actively fighting the drought, South Africa's economy will be brought to its knees, placing food security at great risk and leading to unaffordable food price inflation”.

Reacting to the drop in GDP figures released by Stats SA, Steyn said the DA was deeply concerned about the future of the agriculture sector in South Africa.

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Steyn said: “The figures show an agriculture sector shrinking at an alarming rate, a culmination of inadequate government planning and economic stimuli, deepened by the effects of the current drought gripping the whole country”.

According to the report, the agricultural sector shrunk by 14 percent during the 4th quarter of 2015, and by 8.4 percent from 2014 to 2015.

This is the largest decline in the sector since 1995. Steyn said since the outbreak of the drought, 37 000 jobs in agriculture had been lost. She said there had also been a knock-on effect on the manufacturing sector, where 36 000 jobs have been lost, mostly in food processing.

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“The DA therefore again urges government to declare the current drought a national disaster in order to provide a coordinated response to the disaster,” said Steyn.

AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY