South Africa, which has had a bumper crop of maize this year leading to depressed prices and dampened demand in Africa, will now target Asian markets to boost maize exports
South Africa, which had faced a maize deficit last year, is expecting to produce a maize surplus of around 3.5mn tonnes this season. This has created a major slump in demand and the industry will need to attract new maize importers to prevent wastage of crops that can create another setback for the struggling economy.
South Africa had exported almost all its maize surplus in 2014/15 to other African countries. This season, the country is looking to expand maize export for the first time to Asia and the Middle East, where buyers use it for animal feed rather than human consumption.
Industry producer group Grain SA told Reuters that it will target markets including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Middle East. South Africa has a geographical advantage over rivals like Argentina to supply these markets.
"Most of the countries in the East do not have a lot of land, their animal feed industry mostly imports all the raw materials," Grain SA chief executive Jannie de Villiers told Reuters. "I do not expect a lot of maize going into Africa."
South Africa will struggle to sell maize in Africa after increased rainfall boosted crops in Malawi and Zambia which have lifted export bans on their non-genetically modified (GM) crops that are preferred on the continent.
The country is expected to harvest a record 15.6mn tonnes of maize this year, double last year's output. Favourable weather conditions have lifted yields following an El Nino induced drought that scorched crops in 2016.