SABC News - SA can afford to import grain: Zokwana:Saturday 16 January 2016

SA can afford to import grain: Zokwana

Saturday 16 January 2016 06:23

SABC

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.(SABC)

As the drought persists, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana has given the assurance that South Africa can afford to import grain.

The drought has negatively affected crops and could force the country to import at least six-million tons of maize.

Zokwana has called on farmers not to give up as the drought intensifies.

He met members of Grain SA, the National Agricultural Marketing Council, Transnet and MaizeTrust on Friday to determine the country's level of readiness to import large levels of maize.

Speaking in Pretoria, Zokwana outlined his department's plans.

“Government and industry will continue working together and monitoring the following: plating and production profiles, import matters, food price implications, the impact on subsistence farmers, climate conditions and providing national updates. There is a commitment between the industry and government to work aggressively together to ensure better impactful relief and recovery from the drought situation. We will continue to engage with all stake holders regarding the drought situation to try and find solutions to this problem,” explains Zokwana.

Zokwana says five provinces including KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free State and parts of the Gauteng have been declared disaster areas.

He says government is currently assessing effects of dry conditions in the Eastern Cape Western Cape and Northern Cape.

“The maize season ends at the end of April. So we will have white maize available end of April and about a million tons of carryover - plus the next crop that is not going to be good. But we expect that to run out like September - October of 2017. So we need to import white maize to take us from September - October to April of 2017. And I think this is challenge there is not a lot of white maize available in the world . We have looked at the estimates between 5 to 6 million tons of maize that we need to import, tats the shortage that we have.”

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