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South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) lifted the country’s 2022/23 maize production estimate by 2% from last month to 16,1 million tonnes. This crop is 5% more than the 2021/22 season and the third-largest harvest on record. The expected large harvest is primarily on the back of large yields, as the area planted is slightly down from the 2021/22 season. The harvest is made up of 8,5 million tonnes of white maize, with 7,6 million tonnes of yellow maize. A crop of 16,1 million tonnes implies South Africa will have sufficient supplies to meet domestic maize needs of roughly 11,4 million tonnes and have over three million tonnes available for export markets in the 2023/24 marketing year.
The soya bean harvest remained unchanged from April’s record estimate of 2,8 million tonnes (up 24% y/y). The crop improvement is due to an expansion in the planted area and the expected higher yields. Thanks to the ample soya bean harvest, South Africa could meet its domestic demand and retain over 300 000 tonnes of soya beans for export markets. This soya bean export expansion is new territory for South Africa which until recently, was a net importer of soya beans and soya bean products and this is beneficial to the agricultural trade balance.
The sunflower seed production estimate remained unchanged from last month at 797 610 tonnes (down 6% y/y). The annual decline in the sunflower seed production forecast mirrors the reduced planted area and yields in some areas. Other small crops, such as groundnuts and dry beans, rose from April estimates to 51 510 tonnes (up 6% y/y) and 48 560 tonnes (down 8% y/y), respectively.
At the moment producers across the country are hard at work harvesting summer crops. Recent rain has not led to any quality issues; thus, we anticipate a large harvest of high-quality summer grains and oilseed. From a grain consumer perspective, the data bode well with the already softening maize and oilseed farm prices and reinforces our prediction of a possible moderation in grains-related food product prices in the food inflation basket. – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz