It is encouraging to see the colleagues at the Pretoria office of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) placing South Africa’s 2023/24 commercial maize production prospects at 15,2 million tonnes, well above the long-term average of 13,6 million tonnes (albeit down 7% y/y).

The USDA colleagues are worried about the yield potential of the maize crop in the North West and reasonably optimistic about the crop in other provinces. The North West hasn’t received as much rain as other provinces. Still, conditions aren’t as terrible there.

South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee released the estimate for area plantings on Tuesday, January 30. This data will help us have a better view of the crop size. Still, considering the excellent rains we have had so far, we can all be optimistic about South Africa’s maize production prospects in the 2023/24 season.

If we have a decent crop of over 15,0 million tonnes, South Africa would meet its annual maize consumption of about 12,0 million tonnes and remain a net exporter of maize in the 2024/25 marketing year starting in May 2024.

These data bode well for the country’s possible moderating consumer food inflation in 2024.

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