18 May 2017
Addressing journalists at Grain SA's NAMPO Harvest Day on Thursday, 18 May 2017, CEO Jannie de Villiers discussed grain crop conditions, exports, the next season, development and land reform.
GRAIN CROP CONDITIONS
The National Crop Estimates Committee of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries estimated a total grain and oilseed crop (Summer and Winter grains) at a combined 19 231 445 tons vs the disastrous crop of 2016 of 11 228 680 tons. The latest maize crop is just 120 000 tons short of the previous record of 14.656 mil tons.We are also expecting a new record Soybean crop of 1 162 425 tons. Farmers are busy harvesting in the North – it is after all Harvest Day at NAMPO – whilst the farmers in the Western Cape are busy planting wheat, barley and canola in the dust with faith that the rain will come.
If we provide for a normal 6-weeks of stock at the end of this season, Grain SA is estimating a surplus of 3.6 million tons of maize to be available for export to our international customers. It is much more than the 2.3 million tons that we imported last year. We have been informed that the infrastructure will be ready, but the longer we wait to commence with exports, the higher the pressure on our ports. The first few tons of White Maize (WM) (14 000 ton) and Yellow Maize (YM) (2 000 ton) are already being exported to African destinations. The first deep sea export permits have been issued by DAFF this week and we expect the YM to leave our ports by month-end. South Africa’s most likely destinations will be Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Grain SA also held discussions with Minister Zokwana to assist in opening some more export markets in the East and especially in the Middle East. If we can’t export the surplus, it will keep maize prices suppressed and might discourage farmers to plant next season.
Despite the record soybean crop, it is still falls short for local consumption. We are very excited about the developments in the soy industry and expect it to keep on growing. Both maize and soybeans are crucial ingredients for our poultry industry. Later today Grain SA will engage with poultry industry leaders as well as the Fair Trade-group, seeking new solutions to not just keep the doors of our poultry industry open, but to grow it in line with the increase in demand for poultry products.
Grain SA thus follows a two-way approach to increase demand: Grow demand of local value adding (Poultry, Dairy and Red meat) as well as direct exports of grains.
The first rains fell in the Western Cape and planting is under way, but the current dry conditions are very worrying. The wheat industry is an industry in distress. Grain SA is now in the second phase of a turn-around strategy to revive the wheat industry. Early indications for the next summer grain season are a neutral to weak El-Nino. As yet, it is very early to react to this, but we will keep a close watch on the emerging weather patterns and advise farmers accordingly. The first drought- and heat tolerant maize varieties arrived in South Africa in December 2016 with the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology, with breeders already working on the selection to assist our farmers.
Given the current conditions, as well as the below production cost prices of maize, it is likely that farmers might plant fewer hectares next season.
The current season was also great to our farmers in the Grain SA Farmer Development Program (FDP). Our partnership with National Treasury is in its second production year and we have assisted 3 025 farmers on 4 289 ha – growing maize to improve household food security and provide an injection into our deep rural economy. The project applies to 1ha farmers on communal land in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Grain SA has over 90 mentors in service to assist these farmers and it is estimated that we reach close to an average of 6 tons per ha this season. Our aim is to harvest a commercial yield irrespective of the size of the piece of land. All the little pieces of land are mapped by GPS, with photographic data of the crop as it progresses. If all goes well, the project will be expanded next season. The biggest challenge this year however, is to harvest this beautiful crop and assist the producers with storage and marketing. Grain SA would like to salute our FDP team as well as our partners for making this happen.
Grain SA is a participating directly and indirectly in the Nation in Conversation debates. One thing that stood out thus far in the debate around land reform, is that real radical economic transformation can only happen if black farmers get the title deeds of the land they farm on. Title deeds are empowering tools in the hands of farmers to produce commercially. No farmer can produce on a commercial scale or harvest commercial yields without access to finance. This is vital to achieve in order to uphold a vibrant agricultural sector and food secure country. Grain SA’s focus is to assist those with access to land to get it in use and productive on sustainable principles.
Grain SA Communications
Jannie de Villiers, CEO, Grain SA
086 004 7246 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.grainsa.co.za