The long wait for SA’s second biggest harvest

  • 27 July 2020
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The 2,61 million hectares of planted maize is set to reel in an estimated 15.51 million tonnes which would be the second-largest recorded harvest in South African history. Good climate conditions led to a 7% increase in the total hectares commercial grain and oilseeds being planted, according to Paul Makube, Senior Agricultural Economist at FNB.

These predictions bring much relief as South Africa will have sufficient grain supplies which dismisses fears of food shortages amidst the growing uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic. Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza assured South Africans of “sufficient food supplies at reasonable prices” in 2020, despite the economic disruptions of the past few months. The lockdown has done very little to hinder the agricultural sector as a 27,8% gross domestic product (GDP) growth was reported for the first quarter, despite a 2% decrease in the overall GDP.

At the moment, only about 46 percent of the summer crop has been harvested currently due to a number of unprecedented factors this is unusual for the third week of July . For one, the late summer rains of 2019 greatly affected the agri sector’s calendar as late rain inevitably lead to late planting which rippled down to a late harvest season. Wet fields that lasted way into the scheduled harvest season meant that farmers have had to wait a little longer before they could begin harvesting.

According to Agricultural Economist Wandile Sihlobo, despite all the setbacks, the quality of the grain is looking good. “When the rains are late, planting is delayed and a delayed planting season leads to delayed harvest. While this will not compromise the quality of the grain, it may lead to a fluctuation in prices due to the tight squeeze in food supplies in the interim while we wait for the rest of the grain to come in. South Africa’s grain harvest forecast suggests subdued food price inflation this year.”

An overlap between the harvest seasons and pre-planting preparations is on the cards for this coming spring as producers are set to harvest deep in to September. As the fields dry off, harvesting can resume at full speed and producers can rest assured that Senwes Grainlink is ready and fully equipped to receive the bumper harvest in the months to come.