South Africa’s economic growth relies strongly on resource and energy-intensive sectors, which worsens the pressure on the environment and exacerbates the threat of climate change (Montmasson-Clair, 2012). The country is also grappling with high income inequality, unemployment and poverty levels. Economic growth has not been inclusive (Mayer et al, 2011). Related to this is the limited inclusion and participation of the youth, in the broader development of the country. Youth is defined in South Africa as people in the age category of 14 to 35 years (NYDA, 2011). The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA, 2011) highlighted the plight of the youth in South Africa as characterised by: low economic participation, low levels of education and skills development, poor health and well-being, and low levels of civic participation and social cohesion. Given this background, how can development be made inclusive? And how can the green economy be used for inclusion of youth and sustainable development, not only in South Africa but also in the rest of the continent.
There is scope for a number of strategic interventions by the South African government to support agro-industrial production. These could make a significant difference to the country’s foreign trade and its domestic employment record. This policy brief outlines the potential impact that a more labour-intensive agriculture sector, which is also focused on high value-added products, could make in reducing the balance of payments constraint and support transformation and employment, particularly in rural areas.
The policy brief makes a case for agriculture’s central role in growth, transformation and empowerment. It is based on TIPS research on Agro-processing, wage employment and export revenue: Opportunities for strategic intervention by Christopher Cramer and John Sender.