South Africa will have to import between five-million and six-million tons of white and yellow maize, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said during a media briefing on Friday.
National Agricultural Marketing Council CEO Ronald Ramabulana noted that this would have a significant impact on the cost of maize in South Africa, while Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers outlined that it would cost roughly R20-billion to import the maize.
“We are not even talking about wheat, soya or bean meal,” he added.
De Villiers warned that the country’s stock of white maize would run dry by September, adding that it would not be easy to secure supply from elsewhere in the world, as only the US and Mexico produced white maize.
Meanwhile, Zokwana said he was confident that the country’s ports had capacity to handle the expected imports, but better coordination between port use and internal logistics would be needed.
The Minister further said farmers should not believe that they are alone in their hour of need and that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had, together with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, committed R371.7-million for Land Care programmes in the coming year.
He noted that these programmes were a community-based and government-supported approach to the sustainable management and use of agricultural natural resources.
He also highlighted that his department had, together with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, made a request to National Treasury for additional funds to further assist farmers in dealing with the current drought disaster.