Zimbabwe could be forced to source its maize imports elsewhere after South African producers have hinted on possible suspension of exports in case of a deficit.
Grain SA chief executive Jannie de Villiers told South African media the country was faced with a maize deficit and exports to some other countries including Zimbabwe will be sacrificed to meet its internal demand.
“Other countries in southern Africa affected by severe weather such as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi will probably have to source maize elsewhere in case of shortages this year,” de Villiers said.
The neighbouring country is projected to produce 4 696 million tonnes of white maize, down 395 while yellow maize harvest is expected to decline by 24 percent to 4 968 million, attributed to severe drought.
“Millers could run out of white maize this year,” de Villiers said.
Dry and hot weather conditions in the main maize and oil seeds production areas – especially in the North West and Free State – has triggered large price swings in maize contracts on the South African Futures Exchange.
This comes as the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) has warned that changes in rainfall patterns compounded with flooding in some areas will negatively impact on the success of the current farming season.
The farmers’ grouping warned that Zimbabwe could struggle to meet a target of 1,4 million tonnes of maize for the 2014/15 season as current maize crop will struggle to mature due to flooding, with most of the crop having already been destroyed. Zimbabwe requires over 1,3 million tonnes of maize for human consumption and 350 000 tonnes for animal feed.
Over the years, it has supplemented its requirements through imports, particularly from South Africa and Zambia.
The country and millers imported about 130 000 tonnes of maize from May to December last year, according to data on the South African Grain Information Service’s website, more than in any season since 2008-09, when Zimbabwe imported 525 834 tonnes.
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