A Few Notes on South Africa’s Maize Market

We received some good news in South Africa’s agricultural sector this week. There is a possibility for the maize market to be well supplied in the 2018/19 marketing season owing to expectations of relatively large harvest, as well as carryover stock from the 2017/18 marketing year.

The National Crop Estimates Committee placed its first production estimates for maize at 12.2 million tonnes, well above the market estimate of 11.2 million tonnes. Although having declined by 27% from the 2016/17 production season, this is still above the annual consumption of 10.5 million tonnes.

In terms of stocks, total maize ending stock for the 2017/18 marketing year is estimated at 4.2 million tonnes of maize, which is treble the volume seen the previous year. This, together with the expected harvest of 12.2 million tonnes, will form South Africa’s maize supplies in the 2018/19 marketing year which starts on 01 May 2018.

From a consumer and food security point of view, this is a welcome development as it implies that maize prices could possibly remain affordable for some time.

With that said, these are first production estimates, going forward, the weather will be a key factor to monitor as it could still have a notable implication on crop development. Fortunately, the South African Weather Service forecasts above-normal rainfall between this month and April 2018 over the summer rainfall areas, which bodes well for crops. 

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Author: Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa. He is a columnist for Business Day and Farmers Weekly magazine. Sihlobo is a member of the South African Agricultural Economics Association. He has previously served as an economist at Grain South Africa. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

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