SA searching for new maize export markets

Indonesia could possibly be the new market destination for 2.7 million tons of maize destined for exports. It is a possibility now being investigated by sellers ahead of the new marketing year starting on 1 May.

CEO of Grain SA Jannie de Villiers said in the past, the biggest markets for South Africa, in the case of a surplus, were Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

“We will attempt to get into the market and I believe that once the price is right, the outflow will begin. I know of about three shiploads that have been sold already. Our salvation depends on the development of new markets; for example, chicken in SA and exports to the East.”

Regarding the possibility of exports to the Middle East, De Villiers said it seems as if laws and permits on genetically modified (GM) maize still cause problems in the process of gaining access to markets.

He also said Senzeni Zokwana, South African Minster of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, is enthusiastically looking for new markets.

Regarding the notion that farmers’ debt will prompt them to withhold maize until prices improve, De Villiers said this might be a problem after the drought. However, he believes there are also positive signs.

“At the Grain SA congress, we asked everyone about their debt position and there were less (farmers) who indicated that they had to reschedule their debt, than the number we anticipated.”

There is also a very good soya bean harvest on the land.

“Yields are looking good and the price does not look too bad either. Farmers who plant both maize and soya beans can do well with soya.”

With harvesting going full steam ahead, it looks like yields might be more than the national average of 1.6 tons/ha.

Agbiz agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo believes this supports the National Crop Estimate Committee view of a record soya bean harvest.

On maize, he said the yield so far is above average and the second biggest harvest is expected.

“Dry conditions count in the maize producing areas which is also a good thing in the harvest process.”

Sihlobo said South Africa imported an estimated 2.26 million tons of maize in the 2016-’17 season, which ended on 30 April.

In contrast, it is expected that 2.7 million tons (52% white and 48% yellow) of maize will have to be exported in the new marketing year.

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