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Sector overview

The agri-processing sector processes raw products derived from the agriculture sector. According to the Standard Industrial Classification, this includes products such as food, beverages, paper and paper products, wood and wood products, textiles, clothing, furniture, tobacco, rubber products, footwear and leather.1 In South Africa, the sector is reportedly worth R49-billion annually and provides employment to over 200,000 people.2 However, this sector of industry also contributes to environmental degradation in various ways. The UN Environment Programme has outlined a number of the negative consequences of agri-processing, including the following:

During the second half of the twentieth century, 2 billion hectares of arable lands were degraded due to poor agricultural practice.  2 to 5 million hectares are added to this figure annually.

Fresh water supplies are globally oversubscribed, with at least 70% of fresh water being consumed by agriculture.

Nearly 21% of fossil fuel used by humans goes into the global food system.

Agriculture contributes more than 30% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

Agricultural expansion is responsible for 80% of deforestation.3

Primary Legislation

National Environmental Management Act
National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act
National Environmental Management: Waste Act
National Water Act
Environment Conservation Act

Pursuant to these pieces of legislation, companies are required to have licences in order to conduct various regulated activities. Minimum emission standards were published in Government Notice No. 248 in 2010.4 Licences granted to companies under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act must at least incorporate these standards and deadlines were introduced for meeting those standards.


Licences and authorisations

View a summary of licences and authorisations required in order to operate lawfully in the Agri-processing sector.