Good news for agriculture

After the news last week about the good performance of the South African agriculture sector comes more good news – weather patterns are likely to produce another bumper maize harvest next year.

Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo reported that the prospects are that the 2021/22 year will be a third successive good harvest for maize farmers. The last time this happened was the 2007 to the 2009/10 production season, when maize production exceeded 12 million tons annually, after dropping to 6.6 million tons in 2005/6.

Now we have had two seasons where the harvest has exceeded 15 million tons for the first time, rising to 16.4 million tons in 2020/21. Sihlobo says that as the October planting season approaches, weather forecasts predict above-average rainfall for the 2022/23 summer season.

The downside is rising chemical and fertilizer prices, some of which have doubled in the past year. And a record maize crop is not going to result in cheap feed for livestock and poultry farmers – international commodity prices are going to keep feed costs high.