Reference Date: 18-March-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Dry weather in late February and early March negatively impacts crop conditions in western parts of South Africa’s maize triangle
Larger plantings are forecast for the 2013 maize crop
Exports of maize in the current 2012/13 marketing year (May/April) estimated at lower levels than in 2011/12
Maize prices begin to firm up following concerns about the impact of dry weather
Larger maize plantings for 2013 crop, but dry weather adversely impacts on crop development
The first official crop production forecast, released in February, for the 2012/13 cropping season (October-July) estimates a 4 percent increase in commercial maize production to 12.35 million tonnes, mainly reflecting a 10 percent expansion in plantings for yellow maize. However, despite the generally beneficial weather conditions in between October and January, rains diminished in late February and March, at a critical stage in the maize crop’s development. This led to moisture deficits in western parts of the large producing provinces of Free State and North West, adversely impacting prospects for the white maize crop, which is predominantly grown in these areas.
Maize exports decline in 2012/13
Current maize exports in the 2012/13 marketing year (May/April) are estimated at approximately 1.4 million tonnes, and are forecast to reach about 1.6 million tonnes by the end of April, compared to 2.5 million tonnes exported in 2011/12. Lower opening stocks, as well as high prices recorded in 2012 that lowered South Africa’s competitiveness, contributed to the reduced exports. As in the previous year, Mexico remains the dominant importer of South African maize, with imports estimated at 778 000 tonnes (white maize only). While the structurally cereal deficit neighbouring countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS) have imported approximately 430 000 tonnes, as of the beginning of March, satisfying over 90 percent of their combined import requirements.
Dry weather pushes up maize prices in March
Monthly prices of maize continued their decline in February, on the back of a favourable official production forecasts released during the same month, and were about 12 percent below those of a year earlier. However, concerns about the adverse impact of the recent dry spell, particularly on white maize production, has caused prices to strengthen in March. Latest daily prices (March 18) of yellow and white maize are 8 and 11 percent, respectively, above the February monthly average. The weaker Rand has also provided some underlying support to the increasing prices.