South Africa has proven on several occasions being a powerhouse when it comes to agricultural activities, but being a water scarce country this has not been an easy road but yet it’s a road travelled daily. South Africa covers 1.2million square kilometers of land and has seven climatic regions, ranging from Mediterranean to subtropical and semi-desert. With the country growing by about 2% annually either food production needs to increase as well or food imports should increase, but if production needs to increase this will need to be done by using the same amount of resources or possibly even less (Colin, 2014). Factors like what food production is critical will also be discussed .In this essay we will look at factors influencing the agricultural potential of South Africa’s soil , what the soil is used for , agricultural productions and why it’s so important…
South Africa diversity
South Africa being such a diverse country is diverse in soil types, Biomes, rainfall figures, consumption patterns and even what land can be used for. Although most of the country is mostly dry, the general characteristics remain the same m a sandy top layer underlain by a layer of an accretion of silica, with Kwazulu Natal being the only exception, where high fertile soil are found along the coast, but its easily degraded. All this means that only 12% of land can be used for crop production (Muhammed, 2000), and of that only 22% can be used as high potential arable land, putting this in terms , of the only 144 thousand square kilometers , only 32 thousand square kilometers are well suited for agricultural use without having to implement irrigation systems. When comparing this to India, where 53% is arable land, we can see how little we actually have. This is no surprise that more than 13thousand square kilometers are under irrigation and uses 50% of the countries water resources (Muhammed, 2000). The greatest limitations that have been faced are rainfall that is uneven on unreliable as well as availability of water (DYE, 2004). Although arable land is scarce, 69% of South Africa’s surface is suitable for grazing; this is why livestock farming is the largest agricultural sector.
One of the biggest factors influencing agriculture is the people, looking at statistics the shifts from 1970 to present has led to an increase of 30% in the middle class income bracket, this in turn lead st a shift from staple grain crops to more diverse diets , e.g. of this has been the increase in chicken consumption form 6Kg t 27kg per person . Whilst egg consumption has also doubled , fruit and vegetables have remained the same , but beef , mutton pork and milk consumption has declined( Agricultural Statistics (Partridge, J, 1997) (Ruterford ,J and Westfall, A, 1986) , 2008).This has led to half of South Africa’s maize production to be used as animal feed , 70% goes towards poultry. Although more efficient to have conversion from maize to poultry than maize to beef.