Agriculture is the only sector apart from mining in which the Bokone Bophirima is acknowledged to have a comparative advantage over the other provinces. The agricultural sector produces 13% of provincial GDP and provides jobs for 18% of the labour force in the province. The main crops are sunflower seeds, groundnuts, maize, wheat and cattle. The eastern part of the province has a higher rainfall so it produces vegetables, flowers and poultry. Horticulture and bio-fuels show particular promise for expansion and the Bokone Bophirima already has several bio-fuel initiatives underway.
The province is an important food basket in South Africa. Maize and sunflowers are the most important crops and the Bokone Bophirima Province is the major producer of white maize in the country.
The Bokone Bophirima Province produced 22 % of all the commercial maize grown in South Africa, of which 78 % was white maize and 22 % yellow maize. The average defective kernels for Bokone Bophirima above the 6,35 mm sieve averaged the lowest with 2,2 %, the Free State averaged 2,6 % and Mpumalanga had the highest average of 3,9 %. The average defective kernels below the 6.35 mm sieve for all three regions were more or less the same.
Agriculture is of extreme importance to the Bokone Bophirima. It contributes about 2,6% to the total GDPR and 19% to formal employment. Some 5,9% of the South African GDP in agriculture and 16,96% of total labour in agriculture are based in the Bokone Bophirima (Provincial Economies, 2004). The province is an important food basket in South Africa. Maize and sunflowers are the most important crops, and the Bokone Bophirima is the major producer of white maize in the country.
The Bokone Bophirima Province is well known for cattle farming, it is sometimes referred to as the Texas of South Africa, with some of the largest cattle herds in the world found at Stellaland near Vryburg. The Marico region is also cattle country, while the areas around Rustenburg and Brits are fertile, mixed- crop farming land. The northern and western parts of the province have many sheep farms and cattle and game ranches. The eastern and southern parts are crop-growing regions that produce maize (corn), sunflowers, tobacco, cotton, and citrus fruits. Maize and sunflowers are the most important crops and the province is the major producer of white maize in the country.
The largest percentage of grazing land and cattle herds is concentrated in the western part of Bokone Bophirima Province, particularly, Vryburg. In this district, a wide range of livestock farming, which includes cattle, sheep, goats and chicken farming, is practiced. This kind of farming contributes a substantial percentage towards the economic growth of the area. Meat and dairy products are the main products produced, with commercial game ranching also contributing through the supply of meat and hunting trophies.
Sunflower is the most important oilseed crop in South Africa and accounts for approximately 60 % of all oilseeds produced locally. The primary by-products of the sunflower seed crushing industry provides high-value inputs towards the food and animal feed manufacturing sector in the form of edible oil and protein meal and the Bokone Bophirima is the second largest producer.
The Bokone Bophirima Province is a summer rainfall area with more sunshine days and warm temperatures. It has a higher average rainfall per annum than the South African average and therefore has an advantage for agriculture.
This east-west variation in rainfall and vegetation types governs the type of agricultural activity. The primary agricultural practices in the Bokone Bophirima Province consist of mixed crop and livestock farming in the east (with different degrees of intensity), with a progression to almost exclusively livestock farming towards the west. Multi-cropping offers different levels of livelihood sustainability and, at the same time, protects the land against degradation. Due to the low rainfall, commercial forestry is absent in the Bokone Bophirima Province. However, woodlots do occur, largely in the tribal areas. These woodlots are a very important source of renewable energy for cooking and heating. Mostly fast growing wood types are used, such as bluegums, which are alien species introduced from Australia.
Agriculture is the most important economic activity in the Bokone Bophirima Province. Over the years, the government has given agricultural development a high priority, as its role is critically important to the overall social and economic development of the Province. The average annual rainfall in the Province varies between 700 mm in the east to less than 300 mm in the west.