Finweek English Edition - - Economic trends & analysis - JO­HANN VAN ZYL jo­hannv@fin­week.co.za

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.

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