WAITING FOR THE RAINS
INSUFFICIENT RAIN in Mpumalanga, North West and the Free State at planting time last year and again over the past five weeks has seriously affected SA’s summer crops.
According to the latest figures from the Crop Estimates Committee, about 3% less maize was planted than predicted in November. In some areas, young plants also suffered in the past three weeks because of poor rainfall.
Afgri Trading MD Wouter Mentz says that though at least 15% more summer crops were planted in the company’s region than last year, weather conditions will largely determine the crop.
“Last year, the summer rains fell perfectly, and very good yields per hectare were produced. Now we’re waiting in suspense.”
Poor crops in the Afgri region – which is responsible for one-third of SA’s summer crops – could significantly reduce the crop for the whole country.
Although SA economists say that a poor agricultural year is not likely to reduce SA’s gross domestic product (GDP) by more than a percentage point, the consequences could still be widespread. During the drought of 1991, the worst in the past century, about 10m tons of maize had to be imported, and the low level of the Kariba Dam resulted in insufficient power generation for Zambia and Zimbabwe.