SOUTH AFRICA – The International Grains Council, an intergovernmental organization with focus on grains, has projected a 14% decline in South Africa’s maize production to 10.7million tons during the current season.

Paul Makube, a senior agricultural economist, said that the projected declined is based on the drought conditions that have interfered with planting seasons of the crop and subsequently lowering the crop’s acreage, reports Business Day.

“South Africa experienced little rain in some parts of the Free State and North West provinces and this has led to lower-than-expected yields. Some of the plantations were also damaged by frost,” Makube said.

According to the Crop Estimates Committee an estimated 2.3 million hectares of maize were planted for the 2018/19 production season, which could provide a potential crop of 10.5 million tons.

Drought impact

Most countries in Southern Africa have received lower rainfall than normal during the current planting season which has also affected planting in majority of the countries.

Countries such as Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe also recorded below-average rainfall, which has led to dryness, according to Wandile Sihlobo an agricultural analyst.

“Weeks of below-average rainfall during the summer has strengthened dryness in Angola, Namibia, southern Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa,” he said.

Wandile noted that Zambia’s maize crop was also expected to take decline in the 2018/19 production season to roughly 2.4 million tons, 33% lower than the previous season, data from the International Grains Council reveals.

Short term sustainability

Despite the projected decline in South Africa’s corn production, Paul Makube notes that the country has a sufficient maize stock to sustain the country through to the next planting and harvest season.

According to Annatjie Loio, president Grain Handling Organisation of Southern Africa (Gosa), an estimated total of 13 million tons of grain will be received, financed, stored, transported, fumigated and processed in the current season.

GOSA said that given the 10.5 million ton crop in addition to a carry-over stock of 3 million tons, South Africa should have sufficient maize for the season ahead.

“Actually we expect the country to show a surplus of stock going into the 2019/20 season as the situation is not dire but we might see a very tight surplus in that regard.

Thus, we expect limited upside for maize prices in the medium term should the rand/dollar exchange rate continue to trade at current levels.

As with maize, the oilseed complex also faces a decrease in output due to the reduced area planted relative to last year,” Paul Makube notes.