Farming associations and economists have welcomed the first bulk export of beans to China, describing it as a major boost to the local agricultural industry and the economy.
The announcement was made by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) on Friday.
Jaco Minnaar, president of Agri SA said they welcomed any markets that’s opened for exports of agricultural products.
“Since 2008 the soya bean production in South Africa has increased more than fivefold. Due to a collaborative effort in the industry we first needed to supply our local demand. We reached that point last year and started to export to various countries around the world.”
Minaar added that export opportunities were always welcomed by Agri SA as it brings in foreign capital and stimulates the economy in rural areas.
“Although agriculture is only about 3% of the South African economy, it brings in about 10% foreign capital.
Agreements and actual exports like this will contribute even more.”
Grain SA chairperson Derek Mathews said the announcement was critically important to the economy.
“The soya bean industry has grown exponentially in the last five years.
“At one stage we were importers of soya bean ...” Bennie van Zyl, TLU SA general manager said that it was great to see opportunities like this open up for new markets to export.
“However, it is important to know we have to also keep up our existing markets. It is important to have international currency coming into our country, so this is good news. It will be good news for farmers as it potentially means that farmers can start planting more soya beans. China is one of the biggest exporters of soya beans and this is something we can utilise.”
Professor Irrshad Kaseeram, from the University of Zululand’s Economics Department, said emerging black farmers should benefit from this venture.
“Soya bean is regarded as a superfood which is processed into a variety of products as well as fed to livestock.”
Professor Bonke Dumisa, an independent economic analyst, said the country needs to export products to BRICS partners.
“In recent years unfortunately, we have been importing a lot of products from our BRICS partners, especially China and it is good to see exports going out. This will grow our economy, benefit the agriculture industry and also create job opportunities.”
Dumisa said that having more exports would grow the rand. “China’s economy has grown through the amount of exports and the amount of foreign currency that comes in through exports. The more exports we have, the more foreign currency comes through and in turn the stronger our rand will be. I also hope this will lead to export of more agricultural products.”
Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson for the DALRRD said South Africa shipped its first bulk soya bean export to China through the Durban port on October 15 this year.
“Just over a year ago, Minister Didiza signed an export protocol for the soya bean to China. The successful shipment is a testament to the possibilities of growing the cereal and oilseed sector through successful collaboration between the government and private sector.”
Ngcobo said that China was the biggest consumer and importer of soya beans in the world. “This year it is expected to import 97 million tons of soya beans compared to South Africa’s export potential of not even 1 million tons.
The ability to access this market brings unlimited export potential and growth for farmers in South Africa.
Opening new export markets helps generate foreign earnings for farmers which directly benefits the rural economy, attracts private investments, and creates rural and farm jobs.”