BY Mark Babatunde, 8:03am June 05, 2017,

South Africa To Reap Bumper Maize Harvest

Authorities in South Africa say farmers can expect to reap a record maize harvest in 2017, a year after the nation suffered one of its worst droughts in decades.

According to government figures, farmers are set to produce over 15 million tons of maize, a 50% excess of the expected yield. Maize is a staple food in South Africa and the BBC reports that it is the country’s biggest harvest in more than thirty years.

The bumper harvest follows months of above average rainfall in January and February.

Agricultural economists say the resulting food surplus is expected to push down food prices and would be a welcome relief to millions of poor and unemployed South Africans.

In 2016, the El Nino weather phenomenon triggered a devastating drought across much of southern Africa resulting in poor harvests and water shortages. According to a UN report, over 40 million people were affected, many of them relying on handouts, forcing the authorities in the region to declare a state of emergency in many areas.

Thankfully many of South Africa’s neighbors including Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also reporting record harvests.

Zimbabwe in particular, for the first time in more than two decades, expects to harvest enough maize with a surplus for export.

South Africa Today reports Zimbabwe’s Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying on Friday that the country’s projected maize harvest will be in excess of two million tons.

“Indications from the areas I have toured to date suggest that we are headed for a bumper harvest,” Mnangagwa said at a meeting in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

Faced with food insecurity and rising prices, the Zimbabwean government at the start of the planting season launched a soviet-styled ‘command agricultural program’ that supplied its farmers with inputs such as improved seedlings, farm machinery and fertilizers.

The program provided subsidies and encouraged farmers to prioritize the production of maize, the country’s main staple crop ahead of other commercial crops, like tobacco and peas that may have a higher profit margin.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: June 19, 2018


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