Drought hurts maize and soya plantings, says Grain SA


The window for planting maize and soya beans in SA has passed, and with barely anything planted in western growing areas because of drought, the likelihood of the need for imports increases, says grain farmers’ lobby group Grain SA.

“The probability of a repeat of the 2016 drought is increasing daily,” Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers said on Thursday.

“Some of the scenarios we are facing look even grimmer than the previous drought. The financial position of most farming units in the production area are far worse than it was in 2016. The current grain prices are not high enough and thus do not favour nor encourage farmers to take a similar risk by planting beyond the optimum window, as they did in 2016.”

SA is the continent’s top maize producer but profitability has been squeezed as a record crop in 2016-17 that boosted stocks was followed by another good harvest this year. Farmers are coming under pressure because of dry conditions when they should be planting maize for the new season, said Jacques Taylor, the head of sub-Saharan Africa at equipment-maker Deere & Co.

Rainfall in 2015 was the lowest since records began in 1904 because of El Nino, with cities including Johannesburg recording their highest temperatures yet. Cape Town, among the continent’s top tourist destinations, is recovering from its worst drought in its history.


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