Insidious grain theft investigated

Farmers targeted by grain thieves are losing up to R2/t of grain delivered at silos or mills.

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Because the grain is stolen in seemingly small amounts, the theft goes undetected but has a big impact on farmers delivering hundreds of tons of grain per season. Frik Steynberg, operations director of grain services, Afgri, said producers who could not weigh their trucks before they left the farm were especially vulnerable to theft as much of the grain was stolen between the farm and silo.

“This means that the farmer never gets compensated for the grain that left his farm. All indications are that the problem could increase this year and we advise farmers to be vigilant and make use of their own transport, if possible, to prevent theft.” Billy Oosthuizen, managing director of Ruto Mills and National Chamber of Milling chairperson, launched an investigation into grain theft in January after Ruto Mills caught thieves stealing grain off the back of a truck with a bucket.

“This kick-started the whole process and since then, two suspects have appeared in court for receiving stolen grain. “The grain is being stolen across the whole value chain,” Oosthuizen said. He said they did not have a comprehensive view of how much was being stolen. “But we suspect that the cases we have uncovered are only the tip of the iceberg. “The grain is sold to legitimate businesses, some aware that the grain is stolen as it is being sold below market value. “There are many people involved, some part of syndicates.”

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