by Antony Sguazzin and Carli Lourens
South Africa aims to export 4.5 million metric tons of corn in the current marketing year, almost triple the prior period, as the biggest harvest in 28 years threatens to flood the local market.
The target was increased from a previous estimate, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told reporters in Cape Town in May.
“We were exporting 4 million tons of excess corn to the continent,” she said. “It has now reached a figure of 4.5 million tons.”
The national Crop Estimates Committee on May 20 raised its estimate for this season’s harvest of the grain by 1.6 percent to 13.32 million tons. Exports were 1.65 million tons in the season ended April 30.
“There is almost no way we will be able to export all of that,” Sarel Snyman, a trader at Pretoria-based Thebe Securities Ltd., said by phone today of the new estimate. “It’s not looking good for the farmers,” he said, adding that current prices show little likelihood of improvement and probably will leave some producers bankrupt.
The most actively traded white corn contract rose 1.9 percent to 1,143.80 rand ($146) a ton on the South African Futures Exchange today, narrowing this year’s decline to 30 percent. Yellow corn has slid 23 percent in 2010. Meal made from white corn is the country’s staple food, and yellow corn is used mainly for animal feed in South Africa.
“It’s going to be difficult to export that amount of corn, logistically and physically,” Rory Bezuidenhout, a commodity trader at Pretoria-based Degro Futures Ltd., said in an interview.
Farmers’ group Grain SA has asked South Africa’s Competition Commission for an advisory opinion on a proposal to pool some corn exports because it may raise antitrust concerns, said Neels Ferreira, Grain SA’s chairman.
Favorable weather has boosted crops elsewhere in southern Africa. Zambia’s corn harvest climbed 42 percent to 2.7 million tons this season.