Farmers and Silo Operators ready for Record Maize Harvest

As the man on the street, in- and outside the locations and informal settlements, is battling with food inflation, commuting price increases and the threat of higher interest rates, an unprecedented Record Maize Harvest, up 101% from last year (!!), is underway.

As farmers in SA get down to harvesting the record crop of an estimated 15.65 million tones, operators of grain storage facilities say there is enough space to accommodate the bumper haul. President of the Grain Handling Organisation of Southern Africa, Annatjie Loio said on Thursday that capacity was adequate for the crop, most of which would be stored in silos. New silos were being erected, while some maize had already been booked for export. Please note that silos can store the grain for up to seven years!!

Earlier in 2017, Brazil’s farmers had to resort to storage bags as a quick fix to stockpile their bumper crops of soya beans and maize, while in 2016, US farmers faced the prospect of running out of storage space for maize, soya beans, and wheat. Afgri grain management operations manager Jan de Sousa said managing the maize crop started well in advance, with in-house crop estimates and capacity planning. De Sousa said Afgri, which operates silos across SA’s maize belt, received frequent crop estimates from farmers. “If additional storage is needed, we look at instructions for dispatching the grain,” he said.

The head of economic and agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber, Wandile Sihlobo, said while there were facilities to accommodate the surplus crop, demand for white maize outside SA was weak and could lead to prices remaining low. He said neighbouring countries were expecting bumper harvests. “White maize prices are down because we can’t find export markets.” On Thursday, the spot price of white maize was R1,728 a tonne from R3,704 in January, bad for producers and exporters, but a most welcome reprieve for the maize consumers locally!

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