South African maize plantings will reach 3.2 million hectares in 2006/07.
This is 57.6% more than the year before according to figures
from the US Department of Agriculture.
The increase in maize area is mainly the effect of the growing demand of raw
materials for the biofuel industry. According to Agri SA president Lourie
Bosman, South African maize production could more than double over the next five
years in response to this. The country is set to unveil its biofuels policy this
year, and Bosman said it would be beneficial for the agriculture sector and
secure badly-needed jobs.
Zimbabwe facing huge
Meanwhile, neighbouring Zimbabwe is facing a huge maize
deficit in the coming year due to disastrous maize production. Zimbabwe requires
around 1.8mt of maize annually, but high prices in South Africa, a major
supplier of maize to Zimbabwe, and foreign currency shortages would lead to a
drop in imports, the US Famine Early Warning
(FEWSNET) said. "Planned
imports only cover 60% of the assessed gap of 850 000t, and by the end of
December 2006, only 28% of these planned imports had been delivered," FEWSNET
said. "It remains doubtful that Zimbabwe will be able to meet import goals," it
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