SA could ex­port maize again

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ka­belo Khu­malo

SOUTH Africa, the con­ti­nent’s largest pro­ducer of maize, could re­turn to be­ing a net ex­porter of maize in the next mar­ket­ing year if the cur­rent rains con­tinue in the next few months.

South Africa im­ported 36 464 tons of maize in the first week of this year. The coun­try has had to im­port maize due to the se­vere drought that has rav­aged the coun­try, es­pe­cially the main maize-pro­duc­ing prov­inces of the Free State and the North West.

Ac­cord­ing to data re­leased yes­ter­day by South African Grain In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices (Sagis), the coun­try im­ported 32 421 tons of yel­low maize and 4 043 tons of white maize for the week ended Jan­uary 6.

Th­ese num­bers, how­ever, show a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline from the 82 932 tons of yel­low maize and 41320 of white maize the coun­try im­ported in the last week of De­cem­ber.

The coun­try did not im­port wheat for the pe­riod un­der re­view.

The coun­try im­ported wheat in the last week of Novem­ber last year and ex­ported 8548 tons to the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity coun­tries in the last week of De­cem­ber, with Zim­babwe be­ing the main ben­e­fi­ciary with 5 807 tons.

Wandile Sihlobo, an agri­cul­tural economist at Agri­cul­tural Busi­ness Cham­ber (Ag­biz), said yes­ter­day’s data showed there had been ac­tiv­ity in the mar­ket and he ex­pected maize to ben­e­fit from the cur­rent rains.

“The east­ern and cen­tral parts of South Africa re­ceived higher rain­fall in De­cem­ber. As a re­sult, maize crops are in a good con­di­tion in th­ese ar­eas. More­over, the fore­cast rain­fall within the next two weeks could lead to no­table im­prove­ments in crop con­di­tions through­out the coun­try,” Sihlobo said.

He put the mar­ket es­ti­mates for the coun­try’s 2016/17 maize pro­duc­tion at be­tween 11.7 mil­lion and 13 mil­lion tons. This is well above last sea­son’s pro­duc­tion of 7.5 mil­lion tons.

If Sihlobo’s es­ti­mates prove to be true, South Africa will be a net ex­porter of maize as the coun­try’s an­nual con­sump­tion was 10.5 mil­lion tons.

The Na­tional Crop Es­ti­mate will re­lease its of­fi­cial crop pro­duc­tion later this month.

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