Drought leads SA to import US maize for the first time since 2004


For the first time since 2004, South Africa has imported white maize from the United States. In mid-April, SA imported 1,330 tons of white maize from the US...

In the marketing year ending 30 April 2016, South Africa already imported over 70,000 tonnes of white maize from Mexico and Zambia, according to South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) data.

White maize is the staple source of calories in South Africa where yellow maize is traditionally used to feed animals. Industry sources estimate imports of over a million tonnes of this variety of the grain in the coming marketing season between May and April next year after the domestic crop was scorched by drought.

South Africa, which is a net exporter of agricultural products, last year experienced the lowest rainfall since records started in 1904, damaging crops and raising prices. Zambia and other countries in the region have also been hit by drought and so will not be able to export enough white maize to meet South Africa's needs. That leaves Mexico and the United States as the main sources of the grain.

The country s grain buyers will work to source more non-genetically modified white corn from the US and Mexico in the next few months to supplement domestic demand, which is forecast at about 1.1 million tons through April 2017, says Wandile Sihlobo, economist with Grain SA.

While the price of corn in the US, the biggest producer, has more than halved from a record in 2012 because of a glut in supply, the cost of the white variety of the grain produced in South Africa has more than doubled since the start of last year because of the drought.


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