Zambia plans to sell as much as a third of its record corn crop as drought and floods in neighbouring nations decimate harvests of the grain used as a staple food.
The country will sell as much as one million metric tons of its white-corn surplus, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda said. The government has set aside almost one-third of its record 3.2 million-ton 2014 crop to sell locally and to neighbours, he said. Lubinda has held talks with its southern neighbour Zimbabwe over a possible sale, he said on 19 March, declining to stipulate how much it may buy.
“I’m hoping very much that all of it will go to exports because the quantity we’re sitting on now, about 1.4 million tons, is much more than we require for local consumption,” Lubinda said.
The worst drought since 1992 in South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn producer and traditional supplier of its neighbours, has damaged plants, with the nation predicting a 32 per cent drop in the 2015 harvest to the smallest in eight years. Botswana said crops are showing signs of “total failure” due to below-average rainfall, while floods in Malawi and Mozambique have curbed production.
Grain SA, the largest representative of cereal crop farmers in South Africa, expects the country to have a surplus of at least 100,000 tons of white corn, enough to meet the needs of the country and neighbouring Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland until the new harvest starts in about May 2016, chief executive officer Jannie de Villiers said in a 18 March interview. Zambia has supplied Zimbabwe with corn in recent years, he said.
Zimbabwe has bought 56,997 tons of white corn from South Africa since the start of the marketing year in May last year, or 12 per cent of the country’s exports, data from the South African Grain Information Service shows. In the previous year, Zimbabwe purchased 28 per cent of the total.
Bloomberg News, edited by ESM