SA could export maize again
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.