Feb 16, 2017
The South African government this month issued 15 permits authorising the import of 1.3 million metric tonnes of yellow and white corn from the United States after announcing last December that it would immediately lift the biotech restrictions on US corn imports.
The opening up of the South African market to US corn for the first time in almost a decade followed a severe drought in 2015 and 2016 caused by the weather phenomenon El Nino. South Africa uses both yellow corn for animal feed and white corn for a staple food known locally as pap or mieliepap.
The US Grains Council (USGC) said that while the drought has eased, it was likely South Africa would need corn imports until the local new crop becomes available in April. "This represents an estimated market potential of approximately 400,000 metric tonnes of yellow maize and 300,000 tonnes of white maize this year 2017", it said.
More than 140,000 metric tonnes of US white corn was shipped to South Africa in 2016, but a lag in getting biotechnology traits approved prevented more US corn from being shipped.
South African buyers also made purchases of US sorghum totalling about 45,000 metric tonnes in marketing year 2015-16 after the USGC hosted a team of South African commercial grain traders and end users to showcase the 2016 US sorghum harvest.