Get set for more bread hikes

2008-01-15 00:00

Dale Vanden Aardweg, a wheat farmer in Winterton — a huge wheat producing area in KZN — said consumers should brace themselves for more bread price increases in the future.

According to Vanden Aardweg, the wheat increase is not just a national problem based on South African prices, but follows the international trend of grain shortages.

He said this shortage is simply because the market is not listening to the producers, the farmers.

“There is a huge shortage of maize because farmers stopped producing. In the last three years, many farmers realised they could not survive producing wheat, because they were not making a profit. It was just not worth it. And because of the shortage, prices escalated and my feeling is that in the long term, prices will experience a bigger increase. Things will definitely get worse before they get better.”

Over the last year alone, the wheat price has tripled from R1 000 a ton to R3 000, he said.

While this sounds like good news for the wheat farmers, Vanden Aardweg said it is not as clear cut as that.

“You have to realise that growing wheat is a process. You need fertiliser to prepare for planting and you need another six months for harvesting. It does not happen overnight. And you need to consider that because of the decrease in wheat production, the seed demand goes down. So that element also plays a part … I think it will take another 18 months before prices are regulated and farmers can produce enough to have a surplus.”

Vanden Aardweg said other factors that have contributed to rocketing prices are land redistribution and increased population.

He said there is a lot of land that contributed to production in the past but is now lying fallow because its new owners have not been trained to produce.

“There is an influx of six million people coming from neighbouring borders. We end up with increased populations, but decreased production.”

However, with the conditions being more favourable, Vanden Aardweg believes many farmers are ready to make a comeback.

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