n Agrekon - The role of agriculture in welfare, income distribution and economic development of the Free State Province of South Africa : a CGE approach

Volume 53, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0303-1853
  • E-ISSN: 2078-0400
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This article researches quantitatively two distinctive roles of agriculture in the Free State provincial economy: a buffer role and the role of poverty alleviation using a Computable General Equilibrium model. To examine the capacity of the agriculture sector to act as a "buffer" in the presence of a negative external shock to the Free State provincial economy, two different shocks are considered: an increase in the international oil price together with a decrease in the international gold price and a devaluation of South African currency. In these simulations, the agricultural sector does not play a buffer role of absorbing labour displaced from other sectors. Our hypothesis was that in the presence of a negative external shock, the agricultural sector would be able to absorb, to some extent, the negative impact, especially labour. The argument is that when the rest of the economy suffers a slowdown, people will "migrate" back to agriculture and therefore the agricultural sector will grow and increase its labour demand, alleviating the impacts of the crisis. To analyse the impact of the agriculture sector on welfare and income distribution, an increase in agricultural production, industrial production and other sectors is simulated through increased labour productivity. The results suggest that the agricultural sector plays a significant role in reducing poverty and improving income distribution, but considering poverty the results suggest that the manufacturing sector increases income more than other sectors. Our hypothesis is that growth based on agriculture has a greater impact on poor income households than industrial-based growth. The assumption behind this is that more poor households rely on agriculture than on other sectors.

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