Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

The harvest activity is underway in the irrigation areas of the country and farmers are making good progress. This is reflected in the volume of maize delivered to commercial silos in the week ending 11 May 2018, which amounted to 125 644 tons, well above the previous week’s (ending 4 May 2018) deliveries of 30 931 tons. About 59% of this was yellow maize, with 41% being white maize. The overall maize deliveries for the first two weeks of the 2018/2019 marketing year amounted to 156 575 tons.

Harvest activity is likely to increase in the next two weeks as weather forecasts show a possibility of cooler and drier weather conditions over the South African maize belt. While the harvest activity has largely been in irrigation areas, the early planted regions in the eastern parts of the country will also commence with the harvest within the next few weeks.

To reiterate a point made in our previous notes, South Africa’s 2018/2019 maize supplies are in good shape, estimated at 16.4 million tons, well above the annual consumption of 10.7 million tons, according to data from the national Supply and Demand Estimates Committee. This includes both the expected harvest from the current production season, as well as large opening stock form the previous season.

Contrary to the South African case, the regional markets such as Zambia and Zimbabwe could have fairly lower maize supplies in the 2018/2019 marketing year due to expectations of a lower harvest and opening stock.

In terms of production, the most recent estimates from Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture point to a 34% year-on-year decline in the 2017/2018 maize production to 2.4 million tons. Zimbabwe’s 2017/2018 maize production is estimated at 1.0 million tons, well below the previous season’s harvest of 2.1 million tons. Overall, this means that most African countries will look to South Africa for additional supplies in the 2018/2019 marketing year.  – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

Wandile Sihlobo, head of economic and agribusiness intelligence at Agbiz, shares highlights in his update on agricultural commodity markets. Click here for the full report on agri markets for the major commodities.

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