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SA imports yellow maize for first time in two years

Tshepiso Mokhema

South Africa, Africa's biggest maize producer, has had to import yellow maize for the first time since April 2012 as stocks remain tight.

Yellow maize for July delivery fell 0.7% to R2 214 a tonne. (Delwyn Verasamy, Mail & Guardian)

South Africa imported yellow maize for the first time in almost two years last week as a government report showed stockpiles of the grain fell 37% in February from a year earlier.

The nation, which is the continent's biggest producer of maize, brought in 13 842 metric tonnes of the yellow variety in the week to March 21 from Ukraine, the Pretoria-based South African Grain Information Service said in statement published on its website.

The country last imported the grain in the week through April 27 2012, according to Sagis data. Yellow-maize stocks dropped to 674 561 tonnes at the end of last month from 1.07-million tonnes a year earlier, Sagis said in a separate report. Local prices of both yellow and white maize rose to records earlier this year as a drought in some growing areas curbed output.

Grain South Africa, which represents commercial farmers in the country, said in January that stocks would be tight for the rest of the season, until the harvest begins in April. The country last imported the white variety, used to make a staple food known as pap, in October 2012.

Local producers may harvest 12.4-million tonnes of both types this year, 6% more than last season, with the white-maize harvest forecast to increase 18% to 6.55-million tonnes, the Crop Estimates Committee said on February 27. Production of the yellow type will decrease 5% to 5.85-million tonnes, it said.

Yellow maize for July delivery fell 0.7% to R2 214 a tonne. The white variety for delivery in the same month dropped for the first time in five days, losing 0.4% to R2 130 a tonne by the close in Johannesburg trading. – Bloomberg

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