Bumper harvest drives two percent economic growth

The South African economy grew by two percent in the third quarter of 2017, thanks largely to a bumper harvest in the agricultural sector.

The South African economy grew by two percent in the third quarter of 2017, thanks largely to a bumper harvest in the agricultural sector.

Agriculture, mining and manufacturing were the key performers during the period under review, driving expansion. Those industries essentially kept the South African economy afloat when the public sector was letting it down.

After recording an increase of 38,7 percent in the second quarter, the agriculture industry continued to power ahead, expanding by 44,2 percent in the third quarter. These are record-setting figures, as the agricultural sector last did this well, during a quarterly jump, in 1996.

Increased production of field crops and horticultural products were the main contributors to growth, with notable increases in the production of maize and vegetable products.

The Crop Estimates Committee has pegged commercial maize production for this season at 16,74-million tonnes, more than double the 7,78-million tonnes produced last year (2015/16), and higher than the current record of 14,66-million tonnes harvested in 1980/81.

The mining sector has survived one of its most tumultuous periods in recent history, with mining deaths, protests and decreased production all putting the industry under the pump. However, StatsSA figures for the third quarter of 2017 reveal just how critical an industry it still is in the South African context.

Increased gold and platinum production saw the mining industry grow by 6,6 percent, while the 4,3 percent rise in manufacturing was spurred on by increased production of both petroleum and metal products.

The finance and business sectors have also managed to produce good numbers during the last quarter, growing by 1.2 percent during the period under review.

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