Statistics South Africa began its countrywide 2018 census for commercial agriculture on Monday. About 600 field staff has been deployed to visit commercial farms in various parts of the country to establish the number and size of farms and crop types being grown in different areas.
The census will run until June 2019. The census seeks to help Stats SA to get a full picture of commercial farming, its contribution to the economy as well as how many people the sector employs.
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke led a team of fieldworkers to a farm in Bapsfontein on Gauteng’s East Rand as they started with their census work.
“Specifically, the questions we’ll ask will relate to the size of the farm, the structure of ownership, in terms of whether its owned by a trust or its owned by a single ownership or something. We’re not interested in the names of who owns what. We’re interested in the structure of ownership. We’re interested in the financials and the performance of any farming unit.”
Jan Basson welcomed the Statistician General and his team on his farm in Bapsfontein.
“Mainly, we farm maize and soya beans. It’s a dry land and we have a little bit of irrigation.”
The census is conducted every 10 years, and Basson fully understands the objective.
“To measure is to know, and I think that’s the main thing about this and if I look at the questions that are being asked of us, there’s nothing sinister about it. At least we will know where we are with farming in South Africa.”
Completed questionnaires are treated as confidential, and Risenga says the results will be released in aggregated forms, not revealing who owns which farm, and its size.
Although Basson made a comment on the debate around the expropriation of land without compensation, he says he’s not really concerned about politics and that his main priority is being productive.
“At least, at this stage we feel that we do have a platform that we can talk through. Our president is listening to Agri-SA and whoever is the spokesperson for the different farmer unions and whatever, and I am not afraid, I believe in the country.”
Basson also expressed excitement over the heavy downpours at the weekend.
The census will run until June 2019.