Bumper season forecast for South African farmers


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JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH African farmers look set to enjoy another bumper harvest in 2022/23.

This is on the back of positive weather forecasts, an increase in the sale of farming equipment and attractive prices of soft commodities.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) is expecting another La Niña system this season, which means an increased possibility of above-normal rainfall this summer.

Economist, Wandile Sihlobo, noted more positively, La Niña is expected to be weaker, which means there could be above-normal rainfall not excessive deluges.

“The excessive rains can do more harm than good by damaging crops and helping the transmission of animal diseases,” he explained.

Sihlobo added that in addition to the weather, other indicators, such as crop prices and sales of tractors and combine harvesters, have remained favourable this year.

In the first nine months this year, tractor sales hit 6 485 units, up 15 percent year on year.

Over the same period, combine harvester sales were 290 units, up 46 percent y/y.

“This builds on solid agricultural equipment sales in the past two years,” Sihlobo, an economist with the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, said.

He noted South Africa’s tractor sales for last year totalled 7 680 units, up 26 percent from the previous year.

Combine harvester sales were 268 units, up 46 percent from 2020.

According to Agbiz, prices of soft commodities remain attractive, which should incentivise farmers to maintain sizeable plantings this season.

On October 11, yellow maize was up 47 percent y/y at R4 972/tonne (US$275). White maize was up 58 percent at R5 080/t.

On the same day, sunflower seed and soybean spot prices were up 6 percent and 35 percent y/y, trading at about R10 860/t and R9 800/t respectively.

The Pretoria Office of the United States Department of Agriculture forecast South Africa’s 2022/23 maize area at 2,6 million hectares, above the ten-year average of 2,5-million hectares.

Prospects are that the maize harvest could be 14,8 million tonnes. This would be slightly below the 2021/22 season harvest. The country’s annual maize consumption of 11,8 million tonnes.

“My gut feel is farmers will reap a far better crop than this estimate,” Sihlobo stated.

– CAJ News


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