The window for planting maize and soybeans in South Africa has passed, and with hardly anything planted in western growing ares because of drought, the likelihood of the need for imports increases, a grain farmers’ lobby group said.
“Some of the scenarios we are facing look even grimmer than the previous drought," Jannie de Villiers, chief executive officer of Grain SA, said in an emailed statement Thursday.
"The financial position of most farming units in the production area are far worse than it was in 2016. The current grain prices are not high enough and thus do not favor nor encourage farmers to take a similar risk by planting beyond the optimum window, as they did in 2016.”
The country is Africa’s top maize producer but profitability has been squeezed as a record crop in 2016-17 that boosted stocks was followed by another good harvest this year.
Farmers are coming under pressure because of dry conditions when they should be planting maize for the new season, Jacques Taylor, the head of sub-Saharan Africa at equipment-maker Deere & Co, said earlier this month.
Rainfall in 2015 was the lowest since records began in 1904 because of El Nino, with cities including Johannesburg recording their highest temperatures yet.
Cape Town, among the continent’s top tourist destinations, is recovering from its worst drought that’s seen water rationing.