SA maize shortage looms

South Africa will run out of maize as early as next month after the country committed most its harvest for exports, Business Day reported on Thursday, quoting Jannie de Villiers, chief executive officer of farmers’ group Grain South Africa.

De Villiers was reiterating what he told Reuters in June that Africa’s biggest maize producer would have to import maize by the end of this year because export orders were more than the surplus available.

“They [other countries] have also bought an unknown quantity that is in our silos and is still to be exported. This unknown quantity is now causing panic among local buyers,” De Villiers is quoted as saying.

He added: “If we knew how much was left and how much had been sold we would not be sitting with a shortage.”

According to data on the South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) website, South Africa has already started importing maize from Zambia.

South Africa harvested 12.815-million tonnes of maize in the 2009/10 season, its biggest crop in three decades.

The country has managed to attract new buyers from outside Africa like South Korea, Japan, Kuwait, Taiwan, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal and Venezuela, which has supported local prices.

The benchmark December white maize futures contract has this week hit its all-time high of R2 508 a tonne.—Reuters

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