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SA to export maize to China

South Africa, the continent’s biggest maize producer, is close to starting its first exports of the yellow variety of the grain to China, according to the biggest organisation representing local farmers of the crop.

Talks between the governments are in the final stages, Grain SA chief executive Jannie de Villiers said in a June 25 interview. His association is liaising with South Africa’s Agriculture Department.

The government “is in full support of it,” he said. “They have gone through the whole process of doing pest-risk analysis and submitted all the paper work to the Chinese so they can approve of our maize,” he said.

South African yellow-maize exports more than doubled to 1.2-million metric tonnes in the season ended April 30 from a year earlier, the Crop Estimates Committee said on April 29. Shipments of the grain almost quadrupled to a 14-year high in the 2011 season after traders found new markets from Japan to Spain for a surplus that followed a bumper crop. 

Local farmers may produce 13.9-million tonness of white and yellow maize this season, the biggest harvest since 1981, when the nation had an output of 14.1-million tonnes, the committee said.

“Things have already been concluded, we are just waiting for the political signing on this agreement and then we will be able to sell to China,” said De Villiers.

Talks concluded
Technical bilateral negotiations have been concluded, Makenosi Maroo, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said in an emailed response to questions on Tuesday. “The final formalities and signing at the appropriate political level are still required.”

South Africa uses white maize to make staple food known locally as pap, while the yellow type is mainly used to feed animals.

The sooner the deal gets approved the better as this will encourage South African farmers to keep producing surpluses, “which will also be good for the local consumers,” De Villiers said.

Yellow maize for delivery in July declined 0.2% to R1 902 a tonne by the noon close on the South African Futures Exchange on Monday. The white variety fell 1% to R1 792 a tonne. – Bloomberg

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