by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa’s buoyant agricultural sector, driven by increased grain production and the beef industry enjoying a trade surplus, is also a major boost for neighbouring countries and Asian nations.
The agricultural sector had a solid start to 2020, with first-quarter gross value-added growing 27,8 percent quarter on quarter on a seasonally adjusted and annual basis.
The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) forecast the second-quarter expansion to be in the range of 20 percent to 25 percent.
An uptick in animal products, field crops and horticulture are again set to be the key drivers, similar to the previous quarter.
South Africa exported 32 563 tonnes of maize in the week of August 21.
Agbiz noted that about 48 percent of this went to Japan and the rest to Southern Africa markets.
This was a second consecutive quite week since May 2020, as exports have been running at a volume of over 50 000 tonnes from the end of that month.
South Africa’s total maize exports are currently at 1,18 million tonnes, which equates to 44 percent of the seasonal export forecast (2,7 million tonnes).
The leading markets thus far are the Southern African countries, mainly for white maize, as well as Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea for yellow maize.
About 74 percent of all maize exports is yellow maize, with the rest being white maize.
Agbiz forecast a likely be an uptick in white maize exports towards the end of the year into 2021, which is when Zimbabwe’s maize stock would be low and the country will increase its import activity.
Another country that will have low domestic supplies then is Kenya.
“But I doubt if South Africa will be among their countries of interest because of the prohibitions of the importation of genetically modified maize,” Agbiz chief economist, Wandile Sihlobo, said.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s beef industry has maintained a trade surplus since 2014.
Southern African nations- Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique –have been the key markets alongside China, Hong Kong, Kuwait and Vietnam and in the case of frozen beef.
The key markets for fresh beef have been Eswatini, Kuwait, Lesotho, Jordan, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Qatar.
Also, as a result of the progress against foot and mouth disease, some countries that had placed trade restrictions on South African livestock, such as Botswana, have lifted the ban on the export of live cattle from South Africa.
Beef trade had not stopped due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The beef industry is one of the sub-sectors of the South African agriculture that continues to contribute to the expansion of this sector.
Siobhan Redford, economist at the Rand Merchant Bank, however could not rule out drought put a damper to celebrations following the national Crop Estimates Committee that the estimated maize crop is 38 percent bigger in 2020 than it was in 2019.
“Drought, though, is never too far away, and so the fortunes of farmers can change quite rapidly,” Redford said.
– CAJ News