It’s no longer news that drought has been dealing harshly with food production in the country causing an unreasonable hike in the price of agricultural products especially in the production of white maize. But the good news is, the country is now able to source out better alternative that would be able to source enough white maize to meet the high demand.
To meet the needs of consumers who have refused eating yellow maize, the Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Tuesday that all plans to make white maize available for consumers has been made and will be implemented in a short while.
“Everything is on track so people will not be exposed to yellow maize… There will be white maize available for human consumption and yellow maize for animal feed.”
In south Africa, the yellow variety of maize is usually regarded as only fit for livestock while white maize is seen as the best for consumption. Yellow maize is also cheaper and more widely grown than the white variety.
The white maize is usually made into pap which is the main source of calories for many households, but the country was hit with shortage of the products when the country experienced its driest year ever in 2015.
Zokwana said the aim was to “stagger imports at the ports to prevent congestion” to ensure enough white maize made its way to millers for production into pap.Adding that the ministry had been in talks with two of the country’s biggest food companies – Tiger Brands and Pioneer Food – about the issue, and was confident that white maize will be in abundance soon.
South Africa cultivates white maize but its neighboring countries have little to spare this year as they are also affected by the harsh weather condition. In fact, Zambia yesterday suspended export of the grain to ease local shortages.
Mexico and the US are South Africa’s main sources for white maize, but in the past few months, these countries nearly doubled their prices for the product thereby fueling food price increases and inflation.
South Africa is expected to be importing more than a million tons of white maize in the next marketing year, from the first of May this year but National white maize consumption is about 4.4 million tons a year.
Zokwana pointed out that the sum of R1 billion has been committed to address the issue of drought and its effect on the people mostly farmers
The drought, triggered by a powerful El Niño and other weather patterns, affected most grazing lands and Zokwana said more than 186 000 cattle and sheep had perished to date as a result.
That number would probably climb as most provinces are yet to report their numbers.
“Our intervention prevented what could have been a catastrophe,especially in areas where small-scale farmers graze cattle on communal lands. he said adding that feeds are being built in most rural areas so that farmers who are not willing to breed their oxen and bulls can put it there for sale
“We have been building feed lots in rural areas that people can …When the drought is over, you can buy again,” he added.