Nigeria set to be leading maize producer in Africa, says Agbiz

NIGERIA – Nigeria is poised to become the leading maize producer in Africa, surpassing the largest maize producer, South Africa during the 22018/2019 production season.

This is according to Wandile Sihlobo, an agricultural economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) of South Africa, following the continued drought condition that has persisted over the planting season in the country.

According to a report by Agbiz South Africa’s maize production during the 2017/2018 production season accounted for almost 20% of the Sub-Saharan Africa total production.

“SA produced nearly 20% of SSA maize production utilising a relatively small area of 2.6 million hectares.

In contrast, countries such as Nigeria planted 6.5 million hectares in the 2017/18 production season, but only harvested 14% of sub-Saharan Africa’s maize,” Sihlobo said in an Agbiz newsletter.

However,  data from South Africa’s Crop Estimate Committee’s this summer grains preliminary plantings revealed that the area planted to maize is 2.3 million hectares with about 1.3 million hectares is white maize and 1.0 million hectares being yellow maize – which it attributed late planting seasons due to drought.

Sihlobo attributed South Africa’s high performance in maize yield to advanced technologies used n the production of the commodity and more so the utilisation of genetically modified cultivars , which she adopted in early 2000s.

Coupled with the advanced farm mechanisation, genetically modified maize crops also contributes significantly to saving costs of inputs and production  

According to the most recent data from the international Grains Council, Nigeria’s maize production in is estimated to hit 11.0 million tonnes during the 2018/19 production season translating to a 16.1% contribution of Africa’s total production in the season.

On the other hand, South Africa’s production is set to range between 10.4 and 10.7 million tonnes during the same period.

However, Nigeria’s dominance as the leading producer will be short-lived as South Africa will rebound on improved weather conditions, says Sihlobo.

Nigeria’s 2018/19 maize yield is about 1.6 tonnes per hectare, while South Africa’s average yield estimate is 4.6 tonnes per hectare, according to Agbiz, and International Grains Council estimates.

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