SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa has upgraded its forecast for the 2016 maize crop — an outcome that would help ease high food inflation.

In its seventh production forecast for the year, the crop estimates committee said on Wednesday that farmers would harvest a total of 7.262-million tonnes of maize, up 1.41% from June’s estimate of 7.160-million tonnes.

Food inflation rose to an annual pace of 11% in June from 10.8% in May, according to the latest data from Statistics SA, and has been one of the key contributors to the overall headline inflation.

Severe drought in the main maize and oilseed production areas of the North West and Free State triggered a rally in prices earlier in 2016, as concern over supply matched the duration of the drought.

The actively traded white maize futures for December delivery peaked at R5,226 a tonne before easing to current levels of R4,279 a tonne.

Yellow maize for December delivery peaked at R3,954 a tonne before easing to R3,365 a tonne.

The country is expected to consume 10.4-million tonnes in the current marketing period, which ends in April. Including exports, the figure will rise to 11.22-million tonnes.

Apart from maize meal from white maize‚ yellow maize is a basic input for the production of red meat‚ chicken‚ eggs and milk.

Among other summer crop estimates, sunflower yield is now expected to be 742,750 tonnes from 742,750 tonnes.

Soybean is expected to rise to 750,250 tonnes from 728,650 tonnes.

July 27, 2016;