The African Continent Is Not A Good Maize Export Market For South African Farmers Right Now

23 April 2021 – The favourable agricultural season for most African countries has not reached the corners of Kenya sufficiently. Kenya is one of the few African countries that will likely remain significant maize importers in the 2021/22 marketing year. Several countries such as Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Ethiopia expect a large domestic harvest, which should reduce the import needs compared to the previous season and place some at the net exporting position.

A report released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 12, 2021, indicates that Kenya’s 2020/21 maize production would likely increase marginally from the previous season to 4,0 million tonnes (this production year corresponds with the 2021/22 marketing year).  Such a harvest falls short of Kenya’s annual maize consumption of 4,5 million tonnes. Hence, imports are set to increase by 25% y/y to about 500 000 tonnes. This will primarily be white maize, which exporting countries such as South Africa will have in abundance for the 2021/22 marketing year.

Nevertheless, South Africa will not play a meaningful role in Kenya’s maize market despite the expected supplies of white maize for export markets of 1,2 million tonnes in 2021/22. This is part of the expected total available maize supplies for exports of 2,8 million tonnes, with 1,6 million tonnes being yellow maize, which will likely be exported to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Kenya still prohibits the importation and growing of genetically modified maize. This is a significant hindrance for South Africa as roughly 80% of maize grown in the country is genetically modified.

South Africa’s maize export market will remain the domestic, neighbouring countries and the Far East market – mainly Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, the neighbouring countries’ maize imports demand will likely soften notably in the likes of Zimbabwe because of large domestic harvests and growing competition from Zambia. Source (Wandile Sihlobo.com)