July 7, 2008


Climate changes may cut South African corn crop


South Africa's corn crop could be diminished by 20 percent in the next 15 to 20 years as the west of the country dries out while the east faces increasingly severe storms, the country's environment minister said Sunday (July 6, 2008).


Marthinus van Schalkwyk made the remarks to reporters after arriving in northern Japan, where the Group of Eight rich nations' leaders are gathering for a summit this week.


In fact, these climate changes are already happening, Schalkwyk said.


To halt the trend, Van Schalkwyk called on developed countries to slash emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 compared with 1990, to achieve meaningful progress in fighting climate change.


Aware the South Africa is one country which holds huge coal reserves, Schalkwyk said there would have to be technology transfers to help developing nations curb emissions.


Climate change could see weather extremes which would destroy infrastructure, particularly in countries like South Africa.


South Africa consumes about 8 million tonnes a year of corn and produced 7.125 million tonnes in the 2007 harvest.


Thanks to better rains, this year's harvest reached 11 million tonnes.


Despite calls for increased biofuel production from corn growers to maintain corn prices, the government has worked to steer the industry away. 


Van Schalkwky said the government was criticised back then, but the fact that biofuels have caused soaring grain prices throughout the world proved that South Africa was right. 


Van Schalkwyk called for an international framework to set policy on biofuels.

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