More and more food being grown in South Africa’s SA
More and now more food has been grown in the southern African country of South Africa than in any other country in the world, according to a new report.
The latest crop of greens, called apical greens, was found to have more genetic diversity than other crops grown in Africa, and were grown in greater numbers in SA.
The report, from the University of Southern Africa’s Centre for Agricultural Research and Policy, said the “largely untapped” potential for farming in the country was highlighted by the fact that more than half of the world’s green crops are grown in SA, but the South African government had not yet adopted policies to encourage and support this farming industry.
The research, which examined data from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge (IAAI) and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), showed that SA had the world´s most diverse green crop and that most of the produce was grown in a region known as the “apical belt” which stretches from the coast to the interior of the country.
The study said SA was also the country with the largest concentration of wild green vegetables (93 per cent), with more than a third of the total green crop in the South Africa area growing in the apical belt.
This was the second study of its kind to examine the apics belt, with a study in 2016 looking at the regional production of the same crop.
“The apics of the southern parts of South African agriculture are a rich source of genetic diversity, and are a critical component in producing a range of agricultural products including sugarcane, rice, beans, lentils, and vegetables,” said researcher Prof Jonathan Gendron, from USA’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.
The researchers said that while the amount of genetic variation in South African greens was greater than any other crop, there was still a need for more data on the diversity of the green food grown there.
They said the study had found that the apic of SA had a large amount of potential for increasing the productivity of its food production.
The South African Government has not yet implemented policies to help farmers produce more sustainable food, and there has been a lack of information on the role of green farming in South Asian and African food production, they said.
The FAO, which has been the lead proponent of policies to promote sustainable food production in South Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, said there was a “high potential” for sustainable farming in SA but there was also a need to understand the impact of growing different crops on the environment and on the health of the local population.
The Agriculture and Food Product Development Agency said the new findings highlighted that South Africa had “a large untapped production potential for green food”.
“We know that there is much more that could be done to support this potential for more sustainable agriculture in the future, including through improved policy frameworks, improved monitoring, and greater research capacity,” the agency said in a statement.
“In addition, it is critical that the growing awareness of the potential benefits of sustainable agriculture is fostered in South Africans.”
The SA Government said it had launched an independent investigation into the data used to compile the report, and it would provide further information to the South Africans.