Productive LandCows, crops, citrus and chickens are some of South Africa’s most largely produced agricultural products, many of which grow in Gauteng. Productive Land captures glimpses at the making of various outputs, from the mega-scale sophisticated feed lots of Heidelberg to the agrarian smallholder farms from around the province.
Exports vs Imports
The long-standing and well-developed commercial agricultural sector of South Africa is split between a diverse crop mix of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains, and livestock via poultry, sheep, cattle, goats, and swine.
On the global stage, South Africa can supply both near and far with its diverse agricultural portfolio at strategic seasons of the year during which the agricultural operations of other nations are climatically slowed or stopped. South African fruits, such as grapes and oranges, can be found in Western Europe; South African beef is consumed in Southeast Asia and the Middle East; South African grains are exported to its continental Africa neighbors for both human and livestock consumption. At the same time, South Africa imports rice, wheat, palm oil, and sugar—all of which are not easily produced in South African climatic conditions—and agricultural machinery and fertilizer, which remain the domain of foreign nations.
The province of Gauteng, enclosing the provincial capital megacity of Johannesburg, has a marked reduction in agricultural operations when compared to its immediate neighboring provinces, due to historical mining operations. That said, Gauteng is not without its own agricultural production. Farming here is smaller and less physically contiguous, but still an integral component of food security.
Small-holder farms take the shape of rows of fields, or large circles in the landscape indicative of pivot-irrigated farming, both of which can be seen in large-scale commercial farming operations outside of the province, but which have simply been down-scaled for smaller farms. These farms are usually near low-income neighborhoods, and on soil that has already been nutritionally or structurally degraded.
Subsistence farming sees individual households or groups of households grow crops and keep livestock for their own personal consumption. As global temperatures and foodinsecurity rise, these small farms may hold the key to bolstering national food security in South Africa.