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Agri Northern Cape - Farmers need to boost output of white maize, says SenwesSOUTH African farmers need to boost output of white maize to help lower the price of the staple to more sustainable levels after a drought, agribusiness Senwes said this week.

While maize prices could stay high for now even if it rained, they were likely to fall later, group CE Francois Strydom said. Prices reached a record high in January.

“It’s not good for the farmer,” said Strydom. “In the short term, he likes it, but long term the consumer will move away from his product. It’s just too expensive. We cannot sustain the prices at this level, we need to normalise the prices through production.”

The price of white maize has more than doubled since the start of 2015 as drought caused by the global El Nino weather pattern led to the least rainfall in the country since 1904. The rand’s weakness also raises prices for imports.

SA may need to import 3.8-million tonnes of yellow and white maize this year to bolster domestic supplies, according to industry association Grain SA. The country imported 1.96-million tonnes in the marketing year ended April 29, the Grain Information Service said earlier. That made the nation a net importer for the first time since 2008.

White maize rose for a fourth day in Johannesburg, adding 0.9% to R5,083 a tonne by midday, the highest since March 2.

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