Hopes are high in South Africa for this year’s maize crop after a disastrous previous year. But can this optimism benefit the agricultural tractor and machinery trade?
With estimates that this year’s maize crop will be the second biggest on record since 1980 it is expected that South Africa will become a net exporter of maize in 2017.
Exports could be as high as 2.7m tonnes and so far this year, exports have been mostly yellow maize to Botswana and Zimbabwe.
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Wandile Sihlobo, head of economic agribusiness at Agbiz says the total 2017 crop could be as much as 87% higher than 2016, which was the worst crop since 2007 due to last year’s extensive drought.
The 3 main maize-producing areas, the Free State, Mpumalanga and North West Province, usually referred to as the “Maize Triangle”, are together expected to produce more than 80% of the total South African crop.
According to the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC), the areas of maize grown here are estimated to be 1.6m hectares of white maize yielding more than 8.5m tonnes and 985,500ha yellow maize expected to yield almost 6m tonnes.
White maize is the staple diet of a large percentage of the population and yellow maize is used primarily for animal feed. The latest production forecast says the current season’s crop is expected to be the highest since 1981 when more than 15.5m tonnes were harvested.
According to meteorologists, last year’s drought was triggered by the El Nino weather pattern. The resulting poor crop of less than 8m tonnes pushed up food prices and fuelled inflation.
This year’s good rains over the maize belt during the summer growing season are attributed to the opposite effect of the La Nina weather system. The area planted has increased substantially year on year; almost 30% more maize was planted this year in the expectation of good yields and higher prices.
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This optimism is bound to have a beneficial effect on the agricultural tractor and machinery trade at this month’s Nampo Show from the 15 to the 19 May at Bothaville in the Free State.
This is the biggest agricultural machinery show in the southern hemisphere and a number of new product launches are expected, including the introduction of the Fendt tractor brand for the first time in South Africa.
In addition, there will be the re-introduction of Lovol Foton tractors from China and Farmtrac from India.