South Africa Contributed .54% of Global Agricultural Emissions in 2021

Agriculture contributed approximately 2.47% to the GDP of South Africa in 2021. The agricultural sector has great potential with the climatic conditions of the country ranging from subtropical to Mediterranean. South Africa’s agricultural sector is highly diverse, with the country producing almost all major grains, oilseeds, fruits, sugar, wine, and vegetables. South Africa has more than 40,000 commercial farms, with the majority situated in the Free State province and the Western Cape province.

South Africa exports approximately half of its products in value terms. In 2021, the agricultural, food and beverages exports were USD 12.4 billion and the main products which were exported were wine, maize, citrus, nuts, berries, grapes, wool, fruit juice, apples and pears. The top 3 export markets in the last quarter of 2021 were the rest of the African continent, Asia and the European Union.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the agricultural sector in South Africa varied from 1.9 to 3.6 mega tonnes from 2015 to 2021 as illustrated below. Over the last 3 years, carbon dioxide emissions from the agricultural sector have been increasing.

Compiled using data from Climate Trace

Within the agricultural sector, most of the carbon dioxide emissions come from the cropland fires subsector in South Africa. In 2021, carbon dioxide emissions from cropland fires were approximately 3.6 mega tonnes and this accounted for 2% of the global cropland fires emissions. The hot, dry and windy weather during summer in the Western Cape province of South Africa are factors that contribute to cropland fires. The Western Cape province lost 81.4-kilo due to fires from 2001 to 2021. Better land-use planning and awareness campaigns to prevent human-induced fires can help reduce the frequency of cropland fires, in turn reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

This Post was written by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Deepti Charitar

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