by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa is poised for another bumper harvest thanks to intentions by farmers to increase their hectarage, favourable weather conditions and attractive commodity prices.
Data released by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) indicates that farmers intend to plant a total area of 4,34 million hectares of summer grains and oilseeds.
This is a 5 percent increase from the 2020/21 production season, which ranks among the best in the country’s history.
Sunflower seed, soybeans and dry beans area plantings are set to increase by 16 percent, 12 percent and 14 percent from the 2020/21 production season to 555 800, 924 800 and 54 250 hectares, respectively.
CEC this week stated the preliminary area planted to the staple maize in the non-commercial agricultural sector is estimated at 362 900 hectares, which represents an increase of 22 percent, compared to the 297 460 hectares of the previous season.
The expected maize crop for this sector is 636 440 tonnes, which is 17,09 percent more than the 543 545 tonnes last season.
About 53 percent of the maize produced in the non-commercial sector is planted in the Eastern Cape, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 23 percent.
Intentions of increased hectarage have put paid to fears that rising input costs would deter the farmers.
There have been increases in the cost of herbicides such as glyphosate, atrazine, and metolachlor as well as major fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate, urea, and potassium chloride.
Increases have been between 32 percent and 125 percent from the previous seasons.
The prices of diesel and petrol have also been escalating in recent months.
The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) also noted the increases on the back of supply constraints and disruptions in production lines in major global fertilizer and agrochemical producing countries like Canada, China, India, Russia and the United States.
“Unfortunately, these headwinds are beyond the farmers’ control as the price increases reflect the global market conditions rather than the domestic picture,” Wandile Sihlobo, the Agbiz chief economist, stated.
He said in sum, South Africa was still in the early days as the planting activity had recently started in the eastern and central regions.
“Still, the higher tractor sales, favourable weather outlook for the season and the farmers’ optimism through the intentions to plant data compel us to believe that South Africa could have yet another good crop in the 2021/22 production season,” the economist said.
– CAJ News