South African agriculture towards 2030/50

Fischer, G. & Tramberend, S. ORCID: (2019). South African agriculture towards 2030/50. IIASA Research Report. Laxenburg, Austria: RR-19-001

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South Africa is a major producer and exporter of agricultural products. The diversified agricultural sector produces a wide variety of agricultural commodities based on both large-scale commercial farming and small-scale family farms. However, pockets of food insecurity persist with more than 10 % of households experiencing hunger. A growing and more affluent population will require a further increase in agricultural production. We present scenario model projections for the South African agricultural sector in accordance with the projections of the study “World agriculture towards 2030/2050” by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Until the 2050s, depending on scenario, South Africa’s current population of 55 million will grow by another 10 to 17 million people. At the same time average per capita income will increase by 150 to 200 % resulting in shifts in dietary patterns in favour of vegetables, fruits and livestock products. Between 2000 and 2050, meat consumption and food use of milk will increase by a factor of 2.2 to 2.5, while other commodities double or less than double. Increases in domestic production can account for most of the increasing food consumption. This is achieved by a combination of increases in cropping intensity, yields per hectare and smaller increases in areas equipped for irrigation. Cropping intensity increases from 50 % in 2000 to 60 % in 2050, i.e. the average fallow periods in crop rotation cycles will decrease. Yield, in terms of crop output per harvested area, will increase at an aggregate level by some 40-45 %. Changes in physical cropland depend on the scenario used. Mainly because of population numbers, for two scenarios the 14 million hectare arable land in 2000 decreases to between 13.6 and 13.1 million hectares. One scenario, which assumes higher population growth up to 73 million by 2050, result in some 300 thousand hectares cropland increase. Due to growing competition for already constrained water availability in many regions, total water withdrawals allocated to agriculture are expected to decrease over time. Therefore the sustained growth depends on careful use and integrated planning of water for irrigation. At an aggregate country level, by 2050, average food energy supply will increase by 16 % up to 3000 kcal per capita per day. The fraction of animal protein in total protein will increase from one fourth in 2000 to more than one third by 2050. Despite adequate and promising levels of future food supply, poverty can lead to parts of the population lacking access to food. At the same time, urban low income populations are prone to overweight and obesity. Food security plans should address strategies for the distribution of adequate and high-nutrient food, alongside environmental concerns focused on the conservation of the productive land in South Africa.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Research Report)
Research Programs: Water (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2019 11:00
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:31

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