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Price of maize significantly increasing

Grain SA says the maize crop harvest decreased by 32 percent this season alone.

FILE: Maize meal is South Africa’s staple food and while the country once harvested enough to export to other countries, it now needs to import maize to meet local demand. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Grain South Africa says the price of white and yellow maize meal has increased by between 50 and 77 percent since last year and is set to climb even further in the wake of South Africa's worst drought in two decades.

Maize meal is South Africa's staple food and while the country once harvested enough to export to other countries, it now needs to import maize to meet local demand.

Grain SA says the maize crop harvest decreased by 32 percent this season alone.

The drought has severely affected farmers in the North West, Free State and Mpumalanga, with many placing their farms in business rescue and some even resorting to selling them.

Grain SA economist Wandile Sihlobo said, "Looking at the price of white maize this morning, it's actually 77 percent higher than what we saw last year. And yellow maize price is around 53 percent higher than what we saw last year."

In July, a drop in maize production threatening to push up food prices over the next few months.

It came as consumers were confronted with a host of municipal and transport cost increases, many of which had just came into effect.

Economist Thabi Nkosi said a drought had affected maize production which had a knock-on effect.

"It's going to push food prices up a bit and it's going to come through in the CPI. The reason is maize is trading at import prices are currently trading at prices largely because of the drought."

At the same time it was being reported that South Africa will import about 50,000 tonnes of white maize from Mexico.

Reports suggested it was in a bid to bulk up waning stocks as a scorching drought curbs domestic output.

The first shipment of the maize was due to arrive in the country in August with five more shipments expected between September and December.