Up to six million tons of maize will be imported to South Africa from May. The importation is expected to cost the country more than R20 billion.
Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers was reacting to an announcement by Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana that more than half of South Africa's normal maize output would have to be imported due to the drought.
Economists have warned that the maize will have to be bought with a weakening rand, which can lead to increased food prices and higher inflation. De Villiers says they are targeting countries like the US, Argentina and Mexico for imports.
He adds,” We are importing currently yellow maize from Argentina and Brazil and even Black Sea countries. We are not importing from America at the moment. We are looking at only America and Mexico for white maize because is not readily available in the World and other countries are producing it. Given the current exchange rates and current prices, we talking roughly R20 billion worth of imports.”
Earlier on Friday, Minister Zokwana announced around R300 million in drought relief for struggling farmers.
Zokwana said, “Government will assist farmers, agricultural production is severely affected by the drought and veld conditions are very poor. Crop farmers could also not plant their crops during the planting season due to inadequate rainfall. The department appointed R305-point-three million towards drought relief. Government intervened by assisting the affected livestock farmers with animal feed and drilling new bore holes for the provision of water for the livestock.”