SOUTH AFRICA – The Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz) says that the country has sufficient maize supplies to last until April 2020, despite declining production in some producing areas.

According to Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of Agbiz, the expected yields for the 2018-19 maize production season could average 3.4 tons per hectare.

“In the 2017-18 production season, North West average maize yields were at 4.4 tons per hectare, and the five-year average yield, up to 2017-18, is 3.7 tons per hectare swayed down by the yield levels of the drought years 2015- 2016,” he said.

The Protein Research Foundation’s fifth production forecast for 2019 summer crops places this season’s yields at 13% smaller than the 2018 crop on the back of declining production yields in the North West province.

According to a report by The Citizen, the North West province produces about 15% of South Africa’s maize.

Sihlobo notes that the output from some farmers in Lichtenburg in the North West had declined to about 2.2 tons per hectare.

“If this would be the case across the province, then the overall maize expectations of 10.9 million tons would have to be lowered somewhat,” said Sihlobo.

He said this decrease would largely affect white maize, which is predominantly produced in the North West province.

Sihlobo said about 4.1 million tons of maize had already been delivered to commercial silos in the week of June 28 – harvesting of the 2019 cereal crops is expected to be finalized by the end-July.

Rainfall deficits, particularly at the start of the season and in Western provinces, were also viewed to significantly affect yields.

Disaggregated by crop, production of white maize, which is predominantly produced in Western provinces and almost entirely utilized as food, declined by approximately 1 million tonnes, year on year, compared to a decrease of about 0.5 million tonnes for yellow maize, which is used as feed.

With the addition of carryover stocks, estimated at an above-average 3 million tonnes, supply conditions are generally satisfactory and the country is expected to remain a net exporter of maize in 2019/20.

Maize exports are forecast at 1.5 million tonnes, a below-average level and down from the 2 million tonnes exported in the previous marketing year while the country is also forecast to import approximately 0.5 million tonnes of yellow maize, in consideration of lower stocks.