South Africa to remain net exporter of corn attributed to bumper harvest

SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa is expected to maintain its lead position as the largest exporter of corn in Africa, registering 40% increase of corn exports in 2020/2021 to 3.5 million tons, attributed to two consecutive bumper harvests.

So far, in the first five and a half months of the current 2020/2021, South Africa has already exported 1.8 million tons of corn, comprising of 1.6 million tons of yellow corn and 237,092 tons of white corn.  

This equates to an average of 77,000 tons of corn exports per week, compared to about 64,000 tons of corn exports per week during the same period in the 2019/20 MY.

Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam are currently the major markets with the largest appetite for South Africa’s corn, indicates USDA in a GAIN report.

Meanwhile in the subsequent season, South Africa is expected to remain a net exporter of corn, trading around 3.0 million tons.

The high export out-put will be courtesy of the commercial bumper harvest to be achieved in 2021/2022, reaching 16.1 million tons on 3.0 million hectares.

In addition, carry-over stocks from the previous marketing year will also add up to the exported amount.

The positive outlook in the South African grain industry is also evident in a 30 percent year-on-year upsurge in tractors and combine harvester sales.

According to GAIN, relatively attractive local market prices, progressive exports and favourable weather forecasts are influencing producers planting decisions.

The Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) has also updated the production estimates for the subsistence farming sector’s corn crop and highlighted that the subsistence farmers planted 362,900 hectares of corn in the 2020/21 MY, 22% more than in the previous marketing year on favourable weather conditions.

Corn production by the subsistence sector is estimated at 636,440 tons, 17 percent larger than the 543,545 tons produced in the 2019/20 MY.

This means South Africa’s total corn crop for the 2020/21 MY is estimated at 16.8 million tons on 3.1 million hectares, which is six percent larger than the 2019/20 MY’s corn crop of 15.8 million tons.

In terms of consumption, the report estimates commercial demand for the crop in South Africa for 2020/21 and 2021/22 at 11.6 million tons and 11.8 million tons, respectively.

Economic growth in South Africa is expected to remain under pressure in the next couple of years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and structural and policy constraints.

The struggling local economy will hinder any major increase in the demand for corn, especially for animal feed purposes.

However, post estimates a 14% increase in the local consumption of white corn in the 2020/21 MY as local feed millers increase white corn usage.

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