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Agriculture jobs in crisis

Feb 07 2013 19:39 Sapa

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Johannesburg - Unemployment within the agricultural sector is expected to worsen even further, a survey by the SA Institute of Race Relations revealed on Thursday.

Researcher Kerwin Lebone said there was a 34% decline in employment in the sector between 2001 and 2012.

"It is therefore quite possible that this trend will be accelerated by the [more than] 50% minimum wage increase for farmworkers recently announced and set to come into operation in March," he said.

In 2001, 969 000 people were employed in the agricultural sector, but this had declined to 638 000 by 2012.

"Job losses are therefore a long-term and well-established trend in the sector," said Lebone.

He said the slump could be attributed to the agricultural sector's changing role in the economy.

"The sector accounted for 16.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1951, and now, 60 years later, accounts for just over 2% of GDP."

Lebone said other factors which could have contributed to job losses included land reform uncertainty and land tenure rights given to farm workers.

On Monday, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farm workers. It will take effect from March.

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