by Grain S.A.

Wage increases in South African agricultural sector

Grain SA urges increased productivity for farm labourers

Grain SA advises grain farmers to focus on training and productivity

The Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, announced the increase on minimum wages for farmworkers from R69 per day to R105 per day, effective 1 March 2013. The announcement may lead to retrenchments and mechanisation.

Grain SA advises grain producers to focus on training and increasing productivity rather than to mechanise or retrench. The grain industry will not be affected as severely as the fruit and vegetable industries, as they are more labour-intensive.

The National Planning Commission (NPC) focuses strongly on job creation within agriculture. Grain SA supports the principle of job creation and appeals to government to create a policy framework where job creation can be stimulated within the agricultural sector. Grain SA has empathy for the unemployed in South Africa. However, the social responsibility of job creation is not solely that of agriculture, but also the responsibility of government and the private sector.

The increase of minimum wages can threaten food security when the costs thereof affect the profitability of the sector. The grain sector functions within a free market where grain producers are price takers, and the increase in wages cannot necessarily be passed on to the consumer.

Louw Steytler, chairperson of Grain SA, appeals to all grain producers to limit retrenchments where possible and not to make any rushed decisions. 

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