ABOUT THE EASTERN CAPE | Natural resources

The Eastern Cape is abundantly rich in natural resources, from grazing land to forests, marine life to rich farming soils, water to wilderness. With all seven of South Africa’s ecological zones, the province’s climate allows for the production of a wide range of crops.

Crops as diverse as pineapples, tea, tomatoes and chicory are successfully cultivated. Pondoland, in the east of the province, holds some of the richest soils in the country.

The province has always been a livestock farming area. Colonial wars once raged for possession of prime grazing lands, and still today, rural Xhosa people see their cattle as a symbol of wealth and status.

Today, the province is the country’s premier livestock region and presents excellent opportunities for meat, leather and wool processing.

Forestry is another strong area of agriculture, with major commercial plantations established. This is the only province where forestry can be extended under the existing forestry permit system.

With its long coastline, fishing and fish farming are well-established industries. Game fishing and whale and great white shark watching are drawing increasing numbers of people through tourism.

National parks and provincial reserves in the province cover a tremendous range of scenery, climates and game, and already cover a greater area than Kruger National Park. Private game lodges have grown fast in recent years, and are bringing wildlife back to the malaria-free Eastern Cape.

Parks, reserves and lodges are attracting tourists who are tempted by the chance to view the Big 7 (the traditional Big 5 game, plus whales and great white sharks).

The unspoiled Wild Coast in the former Transkei homeland is a true gem. More and more people are discovering this natural wonderland, and planners are working on developing its tourism potential while protecting its pristine ecology.

The province has abundant water from the numerous rivers that run from the mountains to the sea. Irrigation projects are being upgraded and extended, taking water to growing industries and, in many cases, incomes to rural communities.