Food prices will rise next year owing to the ongoing drought in South Africa, says grain farmer’s association Grain SA economist Wandile Sihlobo.
Speaking at an event hosted by nonprofit biotechnology stakeholders association AfricaBio, on Friday, he stressed that rising food prices would not be contained to South Africa, but felt throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Produce affected by the drought included maize, sorghum and soy beans.
“South Africa produces a large percentage of maize for the SADC region. Forty-two per cent of maize in the entire SADC region comes from South Africa and 14 SADC member States import 69% of their maize from South Africa,” he pointed out.
Sihlobo added that South Africa’s summer crop basket, which included soy beans, sunflowers, sorghum and peanuts, had decreased by 27%. South Africa’s maize production, a staple food for many citizens, had decreased by 30% since last year.
“A large part of the maize decrease mostly affects the poor population of South Africa. White maize production has decreased by 38% and 30% of South Africans living on social grants will face a challenging situation regarding food security in 2016.”
He pointed out, however, that South Africa had not done too badly regarding crop yields when one looked at it over a long period of time, with soy bean output having risen to over one-million tons.
The country had also made great strides in maize production on a yearly comparative level, owing to the improved quality of seeds and the improved practices of farmers in local communities.
“Twelve years ago, South Africa planted on 2.8-million hectares of land and was producing nine-million tonnes a year of maize. Today, the size of the area of farmed land has decreased to 2.6-million hectares; however, production has increased.”