Some analysts have expressed their concern that rising input costs such as that of fertiliser and other agrochemicals could potentially discourage farmers from planting grain crops.
This was according to Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at Agbiz, responding to the Crop Estimates Committee’s (CEC) recently released data on the number of hectares South African grain farmers intended to plant in the coming season.
The total area for summer grains and oilseeds was estimated at 4,34 million hectares, with commercial producers intending to plant 2,72 million hectares of maize for 2022, which was 1,1% or 30 200ha less than the 2,75 million hectares planted in the previous season, according to the CEC.
“Admittedly, as promising as the planting intention data is, the higher input costs will pare [down] farmers’ profits this year [compared with] the past season,” Sihlobo said.
He added that higher tractor sales and the favourable weather outlook for the season, along with farmers’ optimism, led Agbiz to believe that South Africa could have yet another good crop in the 2021/2022 production season.
The CEC report indicated that producers intended to plant 1,64 million hectares to white maize, which was 47 700ha or 2,82% less than in the previous season.
In the case of yellow maize, the expected plantings were 1,08 million hectares, which was 17 500ha or 1,65% more than the previous season.
Sunflower seed plantings were expected to increase 16,32% to 555 800ha, or 78 000ha more than the previous season.
The intended plantings of soya bean showed an increase of 11,81% or 97 700ha compared with the previous season, up from 827 100ha to 924 800ha.
The expected plantings of groundnuts were expected to decrease 4,02% or 1 550 ha, from 38 550ha to 37 000ha, while the intended plantings of sorghum was forecast to decrease 8,54% or 4 200ha to 45 000ha, compared with the previous season.
The area planted to dry beans was estimated at 54 250ha, which was 14,48% or 6 860ha more than the previous season.