Independent Online

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

View 0 recent articles pushed to you.Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

South Africa to allow US GM corn imports

File picture: Jim Young/Reuters

File picture: Jim Young/Reuters

Published Dec 6, 2016


Johannesburg - South Africa approved imports of

genetically modified corn from the US for the first time after its worst

drought since records began 104 years ago cut local output.

The nation will allow both white and yellow GM corn from

the US to be brought in, Dirk Kok, a spokesman for the secretariat of the

Pretoria-based South African Cereals and Oilseeds and Trade Association, said

in an interview on Monday. A call to the government’s Department of

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries outside of normal office hours wasn’t


“The door is open to imports from the US,” said Kok,

whose organization represents grain and oilseed traders. Local “prices will

come down,” he said.

The country became a net importer of corn in the season

that ended in April for the first time since 2008 this year after the drought

slashed the total harvest by about a quarter to 7.97 million tons, the least in

a decade. While rains in the current season are improving prospects for the

next crop, concerns about supply of the white variety, used to make a local

staple porridge known as pap, persist because this type is only widely produced

in southern Africa and Mexico.

Read also:  Quality of white corn raises concern in SA

White corn surged to a record R5 296 ($385) a metric ton

in January and has fallen 27 percent since. The yellow type, used for animal

feed, reached a high of R3 915 rand a ton in June and has dropped 20 percent.

Critical decision

The decision “is critical,” Wandile Sihlobo, the head of

economic and agribusiness intelligence at the Agricultural Business Chamber,

said by phone from Pretoria, the capital. “We are going to see a stronger

correlation between the yellow-maize price and the US price. The reaction of

the South African farmers is going to be interesting.” Maize is another term

for corn.

By the end of April, South Africa may import 300 000 tons

of GM white corn from the US and 500 000 tons of yellow corn, he said.

South Africa imported 555 241 tons of white corn between

May 1 and November 25, or 65 percent of the forecast amount for the season

ending April 30, according to the Agricultural Business Chamber. Almost all of

that came from Mexico.

“This will allow US corn, both white and yellow, to ship

into South Africa fairly easily,” Cary Sifferath, senior director of the

Washington-based US Grains Council, said by phone. “In the short term, as they

wait for harvest in late April to May, there could be some need for some

additional white-corn imports.”



Related Topics: