Maize stocks under pressure

Indications are that maize stocks will tighten towards the end of the season, leading to more maize imports and higher prices.

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The maize crop estimate has dropped from 11 million tons to 10,8 million tons, which will leave South Africa with less than 1 million tons for export. More foreign buyers are looking at SA for maize since the crop in the US is under pressure due to the drought. If exports exceeded the surplus, SA would have to import maize at around R1 000/t more than the local price.

Jannie de Villiers, CEO of Grain SA, said that although it was not uncommon for SA to export and import maize in the same season, it would be expensive and could lead to double digit food inflation by next year. Commenting on food security, Dr Theo de Jager, deputy president of Agri SA, said there was a drought prediction for next year, which would put further pressure on food stocks.

“The ANC has never had the experience of dealing with a drought. The last large-scale one SA had was before 1994. I don’t wish a drought on our farmers but maybe we need it to make the government realise the importance of agriculture. It’s difficult to negotiate food security when we produce food surpluses every year.”

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Meanwhile, Kobus Olivier, seasonal forecaster at the SA Weather Service, said it was too early to tell whether there would be a drought next year. It is, however, unlikely that there would be no spring rain in the summer rainfall region, he said. De Villiers said he did not want to speculate on next year’s weather. “The soil moisture content this year is low. If we don’t get a decent amount of rain by November, it will make planting difficult. It’s going to be a tight year to see out.”