Maize mountain crops farm profits
MAIZE prices in South Africa have fallen by as much as 60% following a surplus maize crop that is estimated at 15.63 million tons this season — the largest harvest in nearly three decades.
This is bad news for farmers, who are now faced with low maize prices so soon after the devastation experienced from an El Niño-induced drought last season.
On Thursday, white maize prices were trading at R1 763 per ton and yellow maize prices were R1 893 per ton, according to data from the Agricultural Business Chamber.
Wandile Sihlobo, head of the economic and agribusiness intelligence unit at the Agricultural Business Chamber, said the fall in maize prices would be a huge relief for cash-strapped consumers, but a blow to farmers.
“The prices are down by 60% compared to last year and farmers are squeezed and finding it hard to adjust to the low prices. The average farmer spends about R2 000 to R2 200 on inputs.
“So many might have difficulty recovering, especially coming MAIZE DAZE: Too little last season, too much this year from a drought, amid indications that for the rest of this year the maize prices will remain low,” Sihlobo said.
Bumper harvests experienced across the rest of Southern Africa, in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Sihlobo said, would result in South Africa’s maize surplus finding few markets from its traditional buyers in the region.
Last year South Africa produced 7.8 million tons.
“In fact Zambia’s maize crop is mostly preferred ahead of South Africa’s maize, because of GMO [genetically modified organisms] concerns with our crop.
“Even though Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania are suffering in terms of low maize stocks, they are not buying maize from South Africa. They are buying from Mexico and Ukraine,” Sihlobo said.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said in April that the government was considering setting up a strategic grain reserve to supplement harvests during lean years.