SA's 2015 maize output falls to lowest in 8 years
The government has estimated as much as six million tonnes of maize may need to be imported.
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's 2015 maize output fell to its lowest level in eight years after an El Niño-induced drought scorched crops across key planting areas, a government agency said on Thursday.
The Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) said in its final figures maize totalled 9.955 million tonnes compared with 14.25 million tonnes a year earlier.
The crop, a staple among 90 percent of South Africa's population, is forecast to be slightly above domestic consumption of about eight million tonnes a year.
However, extreme heat and dry conditions in corn-producing regions could ruin a quarter of South Africa's output this year and the government has estimated as much as six million tonnes may need to be imported.
South Africa ports may not be able carry such volumes because Transnet's terminal for agricultural produce has a total of four million tonnes of annual capacity.
An El Niño weather pattern is forecast to keep much of the maize belt hot and dry until the end of the growing season in April and record-high temperatures were posted in many parts of South Africa earlier in January.
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