The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana has called for close cooperation between the members of the Brics group of nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Welcoming officials at the conference of agricultural ministers of Brics in Mpumalanga, Zokwana said that agriculture had the potential to be a "major contributor [than it is] to national GDP … that we must feed for prosperity". The conference precedes the summit of Brics heads of state in July. SA holds the presidency of Brics for 2018.
The minister said that despite the effects of the drought, the agricultural sector of SA showed resistance and removed the country from the technical recession in the third quarter of 2017. However, in the first quarter of 2018, the agricultural sector contracted 24.2% quarter-on-quarter from an increase of 37.5% in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The commercial body of farmers Agri SA said that it was optimistic about the sector. He quoted Requier Wait, head of the Center of Excellence for Economy and Trade, saying the decline had been expected, especially in the context of continued drought and political uncertainty, and that moderate growth was now expected.
Zokwana told the delegates that the Brics bloc should be driven by solidarity instead of competition, and brotherhood instead of enmity.