GIEWS Country Brief: South Africa 19-September-2011
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
- Decline in the area planted results in smaller maize harvest in 2011
- Wheat production estimated to increase due to larger plantings in 2011
- Maize prices reach record highs in August 2011, reflecting lower production and higher international prices
Reduced planted area lowers maize production
Harvesting of main 2010/11 summer grain crops was completed in July. Latest production estimates indicate a total maize crop (including the non-commercial sector) of 11.2 million tonnes, 16 percent below last season’s output. The fall in production is principally attributed to a contraction in the planted area, on account of low market prices at the time of planting in 2010, which induced farmers to switch to alternative crops. In addition, heavy rains caused disruption to harvesting activities and dampened yield levels in some areas, consequently lowering production estimates compared to earlier forecasts. North West Free State and the Northwest Province were particularly affected by the unusually wet conditions. Commercial sorghum production is estimated to fall relative to last year’s harvest of 196 500 tonnes, with an expected output of about 160 000 tonnes.
The 2011 winter wheat crop is estimated at 1.86 million tonnes, a 30 percent increase over the 2010 harvest. Production gains this year are primarily a result of the higher wheat prices that spurred an increase in the planted area for the 2010/11 agricultural season and favourable growing conditions. Harvesting is scheduled to begin in October.
Strong maize exports during the start of the 2011/12 marketing year
Maize exports for current 2011/12 marketing year (May/April) are forecast at about 2 million tonnes, slightly lower than the previous year’s total. Between May and August 2011, total maize exports are estimated at about 1.2 million tonnes, already accounting for approximately 60 percent of the preliminary export forecast. Although exports to Southern African countries are at a similar level compared to the previous year for the same period, increased demand from Asian countries and Mexico raised the monthly export rate and contributed to the large quantities of exported maize for the current year.
Record maize prices in August 2011
Following the low price levels observed in 2010, monthly prices of both yellow and white maize, which have been increasing since June 2010, reached record levels of Rand 2077 and Rand 2067 per tonne, respectively, in August 2011. The rising prices have been fuelled by higher international prices, a depreciated Rand and lower production in 2011. The lower domestic prices in combination with the weaker national currency have supported strong export demand, fuelling further price increases.