Dr Frikkie Maré, academic head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State, gives a monthly market overview of the previous month’s agricultural markets. 

Maize market 

The price of yellow maize showed sidewards movement in March and closed at nearly the same amount. The market closed at R2 700/ton.  

Economic indicators 

The rand showed volatility in March but strengthened towards the end of the month trading at R14,29 against the dollar and R16,06 against the Euro. Consumer price inflation (CPI) increased in March to 4,1% year-on-year, while producer price inflation (PPI) increased to 4,7%. The bad news is that last year’s fourth quarter growth, as represented by the GDP, decreased by 1,1% year-on-year.  

Red meat market 

All three grades of red meat showed good recovery in March after a decrease in FebruaryA-grade lamb traded at a slightly higher price before showing sidewards movement. B and C grade lamb showed a decline in price. The latest available prices for beef in March were R42,62/kg for A2, R39,30/kg for B2 and R38,16/kg for C2. The latest available prices for A2, B2 and C2 lamb and sheep carcasses were R66,51/kg, R53,27/kg and R48,40/kgThe price of weaner lambs increased further, while the price of weaner calves came under further pressure. The last available price for weaner calves traded at R28,87/kg and weaner lambs at R35,33/kg. The price for hides and skins is still under extreme pressure. Merino skins showed a downward trend in March along with the price of hides. Dorper skins traded at a slightly higher price.  

Wool and mohair market 

The wool market improved slightly at the March auction after a sharp decline at the previous auction. Clean wool weakened at the last auction in March and wool traded 0,9% lower compared to the previous auction and 18,2% higher than the previous year. The indicator price for mohair strengthened during March by 2% compared to the previous auction and traded 11,5% higher than the previous year.  

Dairy market
The producer price index for milk, eggs and dairy decreased in March, while the index for milk products remained the same. The consumer price index for milk, eggs and cheese remained unchanged during the same period.