SA may import 5 million tonnes of maize in 2016

The prevailing drought has hit maize production in South Africa, usually a net exporter of the grain.

Maize. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana is expected to meet with members of Grain SA and other players in the sectors this morning to determine the country's level of readiness for importing grains.

Transnet officials will also be at the meeting amid concerns around whether the country's ports have sufficient capacity to handle massive agricultural imports.

South Africa may need to import as much as 5 million tonnes of maize this year, roughly half its requirements.

Zokwana's spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said, "The minister is meeting with Grain SA and Transnet to try and determine the readiness of the country to import grain and also to look at the issue of food security which is a very important issue at the moment."

The prevailing drought has hit maize production in South Africa, usually a net exporter of the grain.

2015 THE DRIEST YEAR

The South African Weather Service has confirmed the 2015 calendar year was the driest year the country has experienced in 111 years.

The service says it has compared compiled data of yearly rainfall from January to December each year since records began.

In the last couple of months drought conditions across the country have seen a sharp increase in the price of maize as farmers struggle to meet demand.

Forecasters say while it's anticipated that South Africa will experience lower than normal rainfall this year, the situation could change at any point.

The weather service's Else de Jager said, "We've complied data from every province then combined that to have an average annual rainfall for South Africa and we can confirm that from January to December 2015 the total was the lowest rainfall."