The marked diversity of its soil and climate gives a corresponding variety to the agriculture. Sugar, tea, coffee, tobacco, arrowroot, cayenne pepper, and nearly all kinds of tropical and sub-tropical fruit are grown on the coast. Maize or Indian corn thrives from the sea to the Berg. Sorghum or amabele, a hardy kind of millet, is also widely distributed and is used chiefly for making traditional African beer. Wheat, oats and barley are grown in the midlands and highlands.
KwaZulu-Natal does not have extensive mineral resources but coal is however mined in the northern areas round Dundee, Glencoe and Vryheid, while heavy minerals are mined at Richards Bay. In recent times, the province has undergone rapid industrialisation with its abundant water supply and labour resources. Manufacturing provides many job opportunities in this province.
The sugarcane plantations along the. Indian Ocean coastal belt form the mainstay of the economy and agriculture of the region. The coastal belt is also a large producer of subtropical fruit, while the farmers in the hinterland concentrate on vegetable, dairy and stock farming. Another major source of income is forestry in areas such as Vryheid, Eshowe, Pietermaritzburg, Howick, Richmond and Harding.
The coastal regions of this province are hot and humid summer-rainfall areas with a subtropical climate. The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands between the coastal strip and the southern Drakensberg escarpment are drier with extremely cold conditions in winter and snow on the high-lying ground.