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South Africa will retain food security after Covid-19 crisis

South Africa will retain food security after Covid-19 crisis

May 8, 2020

Cape Town – Experts have said that the agriculture sector is set to rebound and South Africa will guarantee its own food security while remaining a net exporter of maize.

This comes as the most recent data from the national Crop Estimates Committee show that South Africa’s 2019/20 summer grains and oilseeds production could increase by 32% year-on-year (y/y) to 17.5 million tons.

Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, said: “While this is only the third estimate for this season, with six more to follow, if it materialises this could be the second-largest harvest on record after the 2016/17 crop.

“In the case of maize, the data essentially means South Africa would remain a net exporter of at least 2.5 million tons in the 2020/21 marketing year, which starts this month and ends in 2021, up 80% y/y at a time when southern and east African maize import needs could outpace those of the previous year.

“The International Grains Council forecasts Zimbabwe’s 2019/20 maize production at 800 000 tons, less than half of what the country needs.

“In East Africa, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda could experience crop losses as locusts spread. These countries will require maize imports.

“What’s more, a maize harvest of 15.2 million tons would enable South Africa to export maize beyond Africa to other deep-sea markets such as Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea who were not prominent in the 2019/20 marketing year, which ends this month,” Sihlobo said.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, said: “Amid the unprecedented uncertainty and our collective fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re assured of sufficient food supply for the country at reasonable price levels.

“South Africa will also continue to export agricultural commodities and products, which are crucial in generating much-needed foreign exchange.”

Meanwhile, senior agricultural economist at FNB Agri-Business, Paul Makube, said: “It’s inevitable that fuel prices are going to fall in May and all indications are that it’ll be by a big margin.

“The implications are reduced costs for farmers from planting, harvesting, and distribution, bearing in mind that the distribution of agricultural produce is dominated by road transport with over 80% of grain is transported by road.”

Agri SA executive director Omri van Zyl said: “Transnet has gone the extra mile by granting cargo ships access to ports to offload heavy farm machinery and chemicals essential for the preparation of grain fields in the Western Cape.”

Source: Cape Argus