On October 11, I wrote an article in Business Day challenging the view which suggested that ‘farmers might reduce planting’, possibly due to uncertainty caused by land reform.
At the time, I used South African Agricultural Machinery Association data which indicated that in the first nine months of the year, SA tractor sales amounted to 5 001 units, up 7% from the corresponding period in 2017, as a basis of my argument.
On October 25, the South African Crop Estimate Committee provided further tentative evidence indicating that local farmers intended to increase the area plantings for summer grains and oil seeds by 5% to 4,03 million hectares in total from the 2017/18 production season.
Maize and soybeans are among the crops set to record a notable uptick in plantings, whilst sunflower seed plantings could decline marginally.
One way of explaining this farmer optimism are the favorable commodity prices. Yellow and white maize prices are up by more than 20% from levels seen in October 2017. In terms of soybeans, the growing demand from the animal feed industry is the source of optimism.