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Pretoria – The world of pap (cooked maize meal) revolves around the production of the raw commodity, maize. The past year has been a tough one for maize, as current drought conditions have resulted in decreased production of the crop.

This has prompted South Africa to, for the first time in seven years, look to external markets for additional maize supply. Usually, the country is self-sufficient with respect to maize production; producing enough maize for the local population and still having capacity to export to the global market.

While the dry conditions this year did not affect South Africa’s maize self-sufficiency status, following last year record high crop, South African exporters did find it increasingly difficult to meet regional needs. A second consecutive season of dry conditions, as predicted by experts, will not only cause a further tightening of maize exports but will also mean that South Africa could be faced with a domestic maize shortage.

With maize being one of the country’s most important staple crops (especially for poor households) and a major animal feed input for our thriving livestock industry, the likely shortage of maize suppliers has placed a question mark over South Africa’s food security status in the coming year.

Noting this, one can be certain that South Africa will have to import maize in the coming year to maintain the stability of supply. Grain SA estimates, in an event of a second consecutive drought, South Africa may have to import as much as 2.4 million tons of total maize (white and yellow) at an approximate cost of R8.4 billion to the South African economy.

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