The preliminary planting data showed that South Africa’s area planted to maize is 2.3 million hectares. About 1.3 million hectares is white maize, with 1.0 million hectares being yellow maize. This came as a surprise as we, at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz), had a projection of 1.98 million hectares. I suspect that the late plantings might have been more than anticipated following early January rainfall.
The data we have for the first 11 months of 2018 shows that South Africa’s agricultural exports for 2018 amounted to US$9.9 billion, which is 0.5% lower than 2017’s full year exports. This is according to data from Trade Map. We are yet to see what the overall 2018 agricultural exports value will be when December 2018 trade statistics are released, but the available data corroborates Business Day’s headline that the Western Cape drought had minimal impact on exports in value terms.
The tail-end of 2018 was inundated with various news cycles, both domestic and international, which eventually over-shadowed a major policy pronouncement – The United States (US) Africa strategy. After two years without much clarity on the Trump Administration’s stance on Africa, it seemed ironic that the Africa Strategy almost went unnoticed, given that it was announced well into the festive season, with many institutions either wrapping up or closed for the holidays. Given the significance of the US’ Africa strategy, it is necessary to unpack it and discuss its implications for the continent.
The past two week’s rainfall has resulted in an improvement of soil moisture in most parts of the country, albeit the western areas are still relatively dry. To demonstrate this improvement — Figure 1 below shows the subsoil moisture across the country in the week of January 8, 2019, while, Figure 2 illustrates subsoil moisture in the week of December 28, 2018.