The new National Development Plan (2011) and the need to create jobs through agriculture: Is the South African olive industry ready for the challenge?

22 November 2013

This paper provides a scan of the South Africa commercial olive industry between 2008 and 2012 and argues the case for greater industry cohesion in this small agricultural sector. The National Planning Commission’s National Development Plan (NDP, 2011) has identified the olive industry as one of the country’s many small-scale, labourintensive agricultural sectors with strong growth potential, and which must be supported to enable it to create new jobs. This paper argues that increased government support, linked to the new National Development Plan (2011), will be needed to enable the olive sector to contribute to national development objectives and create jobs. The olive producer association, SA Olive, functions as a cartel of private sector producers, without significant plans for the rapid up-scaling of the industry. While the number of commercial growers has steadily increased, black growers are under-represented, as are black entrepreneurs involved in processing and distributing olive oil and table olives. The article notes the absence of co-operative decision-making between the olive industry and government on issues of shared concern, and considers the concept of ‘corporatism’ as a potential system of interest representation for the olive industry. Corporatism would allow greater trust between government and the commercial olive sectors to be fostered. The paper discusses the example of Australia, where collaboration between business and government has contributed greatly to promoting the olive industry.