Agriculture in South Africa is making a relatively small contribution towards the national economy; however, it remains central in the economic structure of the country. Not only is approximately 70% of agricultural output used as intermediate products, but agricultural-related activities are also among the leading economic activities in rural areas. It is with this in mind that agriculture is being promulgated as one of the sectors that have the potential to make a meaningful contribution in addressing the challenges at hand.However, to date, the agricultural sector has not lived up to these expectations. This raises questions around the role of agriculture in terms of economic growth – do we have realistic expectations in terms of the potential contribution of the agricultural sector towards the country’s desired growth path? Are structural changes in agriculture addressing the current realities or what is needed to ensure success in the future? How conducive is the current policy environment and is agri-business playing its rightful role in a deregulated environment? It is against this background that the conference theme of structure, conduct and performance of the South African agricultural economy in a fast changing social, political and economic environment was set.
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