South Africa has a sufficient maize stock of nearly 18 million tons this season says the Grain Handling Organisation of Southern Africa. Photo: Reuters
CAPE TOWN – South Africa has a sufficient maize stock of nearly 18 million tons this season says the Grain Handling Organisation of Southern Africa (Gosa).

The organisation said on Friday that its members effectively handled 17.5 million tons of grain, produced locally and imported during the past season.

Gosa’s retiring president, Annatjie Loio, announced this recently during the organisation’s 36th annual general meeting held at Langebaan on the west coast. Loio said an estimated total of 13 million tons of grain will be received, financed, stored, transported, fumigated and processed in the current season.

According to the latest crop estimate, 2.3 million hectares of maize were planted, which could provide a potential crop of 10.5 million tons.

The association said that given the 10.5 million ton crop plus carry-over stock of 3 million tons, South Africa should have sufficient maize for the season ahead.

Loio said Nigeria will harvest 11 million tons of maize in the coming season, which will be 500 000 tons more than South Africa, making that country the top producer of maize in sub-Saharan Africa for the season, while Malawi’s maize crop is expected to amount to 3.4 million tons.

She said Zimbabwe appears to have enough maize for local consumption, which is to their advantage as the US will probably extend its sanctions against the country for another year.

Loio said South Africa exported white and yellow maize to Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia during the current season.

Yellow maize was also exported to Ghana and white maize to Ethiopia.

Competitive prices during the second part of last year saw yellow maize imported from South America to Cape Town harbour and an estimated 170 000 tons of yellow maize will be imported through the harbour until the end of this month. Loio added that South Africa is a net importer of wheat, which in addition to the local production was imported from Canada, US, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Latvia.

Paul Makube, senior agricultural economist at FNB Agri-Business, supported Loio’s sentiment. He said in a recent report that the latest crop production estimate showed an upward revision of the February estimate for maize to 10.56 million tons, following good rains since early January that stimulated farmers to increase the pace of planting.

Makube said that although the current estimate is down 16 percent by 1 percent year on year, it is better than earlier expectations of a further cut in maize output.

He said that the expected carry-over stock of 3.2 million tons by the end of the 2018/19 marketing season will bring the total supplies for 2019/20 to 13.76 million tons, which will meet the country's consumption requirements.

“Thus, we expect limited upside for maize prices in the medium term should the rand/dollar exchange rate continue to trade at current levels. As with maize, the oilseed complex also faces a decrease in output due to the reduced area planted relative to last year. The sunflower production forecast came in unchanged at 563 590 tons and is still down 35 percent year on year, which poses upside risk to the price outlook,” said Makube.

He added that in the case of winter crops, the better wheat season particularly in the Western Cape has ensured a good crop of 1.84million tons which will help reduce the import demand by almost 36percent y/y to just over 1million tons.

“For the summer grains, the season is off to a good end with good rains boosting crop prospects. The only concern is the possible crop damage if frost comes in earlier than expected in areas where the maize plantings were very late,” said Makube.