Five facts about South Africa’s maize industry

Summer grain prices reached record levels as a result of the second consecutive year of drought as well as sharp currency depreciation.

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The national area planted to maize declined by almost 30% while the cost of a serving of maize meal increased by 43,7%.

However, according to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) baseline outlook for 2016 to 2025, this sector should recover in 2017.

Prof Ferdi Meyer, director of BFAP, shared the following facts about South Africa’s maize industry:

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  1. Commercial yellow maize plantings are expected to exceed those of white maize by 2025. Commercial white maize production will reach a 20-year low in 2016 at 3,07 million tons.
  2. Commercial yellow maize plantings are forecast to increase by 1,4% annually. The area planted to white maize will decline by an annual average of 1,5% between 2016 and 2025.
  3. Farmers are planting more yellow maize due to the increasing demand for animal feed, which is projected to surpass 6,5 million tons by 2025. This is an expansion of almost 2% per annum from 2016 to 2025.
  4. South Africa’s small-scale farmers are producing significant quantities of maize. The increase of agricultural development support in the Eastern Cape helped farmers to increase production from 75 000t in 2004 to 400 000t in 2014.
  5. South Africa’s maize producers must become more competitive but struggle to do so because of high input costs. For the South African dryland farm, it costs US$99 (R1 376) to produce a ton of maize. This is above the international average of US$84 (R1 177). Farmers in Argentina produce a ton of maize for US$63 (R882).