The agricultural sector in South Africa has recently seen 44 000 job cuts in the first quarter of this year from the last quarter of 2016.
This puts the sectors total labour force at 875 000. Keeping in mind that job losses were in crops and horticulture, game farming as well as livestock and this explains the job losses in the poultry sector as well as the reduced activity in the horticulture industry.
These job losses occurred in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces where the aftermath of the 2016 drought in labour intensive crops we still showing.
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This, however, comes as no surprise as there is generally minimal activity in the grains and oilseeds sectors between January and March of each year, explaining the job losses.
A close observation reveals that the Western Cape saw a jobs reduction of 14 percent quarter -on-quarter, while the Northern Cape saw a jobs decline of 10 percent in the period. Kwazulu-Natal agricultural sector shed 3 percent jobs on a quarterly basis, while the North West province saw a decline of 9 percent and the Eastern Cape saw a reduction of of 2 percent jobs in the period. The Limpopo province shed 9 percent of its agricultural workforce on a quarterly basis while Mpumalanga ust shed 1 percent of the jobs in the sector.
Overall, agriculture’s share of total employment fell by 1 percent to 5 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the last quarter of 2016.
Looking forward, South Africa’s agricultural jobs market remains positive as grains and oilseeds harvesting period could lead to an increase in activity and opportunities for seasonal jobs. This still makes the Western Cape Province dry spell a key concern as it could potentially reduce output in the horticulture industry, and in turn potential (seasonal) jobs.