In recent years, South African maize production has been expanding rapidly. If already in 2019/2020, the cereal harvest was up, it has just reached in 2020/2021, its second best level in history.
In South Africa, the maize harvest reached 16.8 million tonnes in 2020/2021. This is what the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states in its latest report on the country’s grain situation. This stock marks an increase of 6% compared to the previous volume and represents the second highest level in the history of the country after the record of 17.8 million tonnes achieved in 2016/2017.
This production was recorded over an area of 3.1 million hectares, an almost stable level compared to the previous season. With this bumper crop, South Africa could export, according to the USDA, up to 3.5 million tonnes of the cereal by the end of the 2020/2021 marketing year, setting a new record.
While Zimbabwe has been the main outlet for the Rainbow Nation for the past two seasons, the good prospects for production in the country will lead South African industry to look beyond the sub-regional market. Thus, for the USDA, the sector could strengthen its exports to Vietnam, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
These 4 countries notably absorbed in 2019/2020 around 1 million tonnes of South African maize, or 39% of the country’s total shipments. As a reminder, South Africa has achieved the three largest maize harvests in its history in the past 5 years. In the country, cereal yields have more than doubled in 20 years, from 2.5 tonnes per hectare in 2000/2001 to 5.9 tonnes per hectare in 2020/2021.