“If we do not buy food from South African soil, there will be no jobs. Is that what we want? No,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
In an attempt to distance himself from US President Donald Trump’s “America first” slogan, he said: “This is the time to put South Africa first, in a special way, not in an arrogant way.”
Mr Ramaphosa was addressing businessmen and trade unionists at a meeting called to tackle joblessness. South Africa’s unemployment rate is standing at more than 27%.
“Unemployment is the greatest challenge facing our country. We just have too many people who are unemployed,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
“Unemployment has a devastating effect on families and communities. They almost go around like zombies. That is what unemployment does,” he added.