About South Africa

In climate and topography South Africa is a land of extremes. These extremes vary from semi-desert areas to sub-tropical rain forests; from floods to severe droughts; from rain and snow in the winter to heat-waves in the summer; from winter to summer rainfall and from barren sand-dunes to deep fertile soils. But it is this very variety in climate and topography which enables the country to produce almost every kind of crop. 

The capriciousness of the climate and the widely differing kinds of soil, however, also make heavy demands on the producer: knowledge of the land and its possibilities and shortcomings is essential to the success of farming operations. Over the years the knowledge of the South African agricultural research specialist and an excellent extension service, combined with the practical experience of the farmer, have enabled South Africa, in spite of its natural disadvantages, to become largely self-sufficient in its agricultural production and have even made surpluses available for export.

The South African farming community has over the past three centuries learned to overcome setbacks caused by plant and animal diseases which at times threatened to destroy agricultural production completely, but through these same problems knowledge and experience were gained which now allow the South African agricultural scientist to compete with leading experts throughout the world.

An agricultural tour to South Africa grants one an opportunity to share some of the agricultural expertise and experience gained over the past three centuries. Naturally the South African farming community also welcomes visitors from abroad who are willing to share some of their answers to problems which have plagued them in their respective countries - truly a win-win situation.

Regional agricultural breakdown
South Africa's diversity of climates, ranging from semi-arid and dry to subtropical, means that a wide range of crops, livestock and fish can be farmed effectively. The largest land area is planted with maize, followed by sugar cane, wheat and sunflowers.

Field crops - found in the northern and north-western parts of the country. Maize is the major field crop. Others include wheat, sugar, barley, soya, canola, sunflower, groundnuts and cotton.Deciduous Fruit - found in the Western and Eastern Cape. Citrus is found in the northern part of the country, and from the southern coastal areas up to the east coast province of KwaZuluNatal.
Wine - the Western Cape is the primary wine producing area.
Cut flowers - found in the Western Cape and Gauteng Province. The Western Cape boasts a host of indigenous flora and fauna. South Africa’s national flower, the protea, hails from this region. The major cut flowers grown in Gauteng Province are roses, dendranthemas and carnations.
Livestock - almost two-thirds of South Africa’s land is suitable for natural grazing, and supports cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and wildlife. Milk is the fourth largest agricultural industry in value terms.
Fish and other catch - the country boasts a wide range of fish, including hake, sole, monk, pilchards, mackerel, tuna and yellowtail. Amongst the crustaceans, there are rock lobsters, prawns and abalone. Squid are also found.
Aquaculture and mariculture - these emerging sectors produce rainbow trout, tilapia, African catfish, abalone and marine finfish.

South Africa’s competitive advantages
The South African agroprocessing industry has a number of competitive advantages, making it both an important trading partner and a viable investment destination.

World-class infrastructure
South Africa has three deep-water ports, three international airports, a network of roads and railways, well-developed cold chain facilities, and a well-developed financial sector.

Counter-seasonality to Europe,
the primary South African export market for horticultural and floricultural products, is in itself a competitive advantage. South Africa is the closest major southern hemisphere producer of horticultural and floricultural products to Europe, and has significantly shorter shipping times.


The diversity of climates to be found within South Africa allows for a vast and varied array of agricultural products available. Tropical, subtropical and desert climates are all present.

Marine resources
South Africa has a 3000km coastline which is commercially used both for conventional harvesting as well as mariculture and aquaculture.

Ag Shame                     -           poor thing
Biltong                          -           dried beef
(similar to jerky)
Just now                       -           anything from 10 minutes to 1 hour
Lekker                          -           really nice
Now now                       -           under 10 minutes
Nice                              -           really “lekker”
Robot                            -           traffic light
Totsiens (Afrikaans)       -           goodbye

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