What a pleasure it was to have all the pillars in the grain industry – and even international guests – together at the Grain Handling Organisation of Southern Africa’s 35th symposium on 22 and 23 March of this year.
A special word of thanks to our sponsors who contributed towards our organisation. Thank you to our regular sponsors as well as organisations who sponsored for the first time. We are grateful and privileged to receive contributions from you.
While we had the worst drought in South Africa and our neighbouring countries in over a hundred years in 2016, we were blessed during the 2017 crop year when the South African farmers produced one of the biggest maize crops in history – nearly 17 million tons. 2,628 million hectares were planted, with an average record yield of over 6 tons per hectare. The Free State, Mpumalanga and the North West Province produced over 80% of the total crop.
We would like to thank our members for the way they handled the huge crop. Silos were utilised to full capacity and we know silo owners had to move stocks around to accommodate everyone. Together with other commodities harvested during 2017, our members handled over 20 million tons of grain. Deep sea exports were just over 2 million tons. White maize was exported to Kenya and yellow maize to Japan, who prefers South African maize because of its hardness and GMO-free status, as well as to Korea and Taiwan.
According to the latest crop estimate 12,2 million tons of maize will be harvested during this coming season. With carry-over stocks of approximately 3,5 million tons of maize and consumption of 10,5 million tons per annum, we will be left with quite a few million tons of maize for exports. Apart from the regular exports of maize to our neighbouring countries Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia, South Korea is in the market for maize at the moment. Should our prices be competitive with the USA, this could be a potential market. Favourable weather outlook and the volatility of the rand will remain focus areas, impacting the market.
Crop estimates for other commodities are as follows:
- Sunflower seeds: 732 000 metric tons down 16%
- Soybeans: 1,3 million tons up 4,5%
- Groundnuts: 89 000 metric tons down 3,5%
- Sorghum: 78 000 metric tons down 48%
The fact that 48% less sorghum has been planted, means that sorghum will have to be imported to meet the country’s demand. In the production area of Limpopo, which didn’t have enough rain during the sorghum planting season, producers planted cotton.
Through the good and the bad times, we in agriculture must ensure that the population of South Africa are sure of food security and food safety. In general, I am very proud of the wonderful co-operation that exists between the different organisations in agriculture.
We are particularly proud of our South African producers who are rated among the best in the world – they are absolute experts in farming.
At present we have approximately 33 000 primary producers, who do not receive any subsidies from Government as is the case in America and the rest of the world. At least 3 500 South African producers are currently farming in 45 of the 55 countries in Africa. Australia also would love to have our farmers – as was indicated just last week. We are facing a challenge in the farming industry as the average farmer’s age is over 60 and we need the younger generation to participate in supplying food to our nation. We also need to make sure that land expropriation without compensation does not go through, as we need our producers to ensure food security.
World production of maize is good, although less than last season due to weather conditions in the United States of America and South America. China is the second largest producer of maize after the United States of America. World domestic demand was up by 6 million tons, split between the USA, Brazil, the EU, China, India and South Africa. World ending stocks are nearly 200 million tons. Ending stocks for soybeans are 94 million tons.
Our wheat production is about 1,5 million tons, while our demand for wheat is roughly 3,2 million tons. During this season wheat was imported from countries like the United States of America, Germany, Argentina and especially the Black Sea countries. World wheat stocks are on 269 million tons, which shows clearly there is no shortage of wheat in the world.
There is a Chinese verb which states: ‘May you live in interesting times’. Well, we surely are.
Just take our beloved country, South Africa, and the turmoil we went through during the past few years: Corruption, state capture, the weakening of the rand, a credit downgrade, droughts, a president nobody respected and so many more negative experiences we faced. And then just as we thought it cannot get worse, such wonderful changes occurred: A new president, new cabinet, the rand strengthening and we had good rains in certain areas last year – we are full of hope for the future.
Sadly we had the horrible outbreak of listeriosis in our country. This is a challenge for the companies involved. Fortunately the prompt reaction of Government brought the outbreak under control.
Our prayers are still with the people in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape and all the different parts of our country where rain is so desperately needed.
Unfortunately Moody’s warned that Cape Town’s water crisis will have a direct impact on the city’s budget and economy in 2018 and beyond. It stated that the water crisis will cause the city’s borrowing to rise sharply and the provincial economy to shrink. The estimated loss in income for the agricultural sector in the Western Cape due to the drought, is around
We in agriculture are obliged to promote food safety and security. Although there are so many negative influences from outside, we must still do our best and work together positively to achieve success in this country we love so much.
Thank you to all our strong leaders in agriculture and to everyone who contributes so loyally.
Mobile: 082 458 7264