MAIZE IMPORTS UP 25 PER CENT

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MAIZE IMPORTS UP 25 PER CENT
MAIZE IMPORTS UP 25 PER CENT

Africa-Press – Eswatini. The shortage in maize supply and production continues to be a financial strain in the country.

This has forced the National Maize Cooperation (NMC) to spend over E2 million importing maize in the last financial year. This was mentioned in the cooperation’s annual report which also indicated that maize imports exceeded 25 per cent from the previous year. NMC said local maize supplies continued to be a challenge as they witnessed a decrease in the metric tonnes received during the reporting period, compared to those received in the previous financial year. They said this resulted in the Corporation sourcing out more than 28 000 metric tonnes of maize from South Africa, which accounts for 98 per cent of local maize supplies costing over E2 million.

Imports
The corporation also mentioned that the increase in the imports was due to the decrease in supply by local farmers, as well as the instability of the Lilangeni. “Maize is a soft commodity that trades in the stock exchange, therefore the instability of the Lilangeni against the US Dollar pushed the maize prices to levels never experienced before”, highlighted the report.
They also mentioned that the South African Futures Exchange (SAFEX), which determines the price of maize on a daily basis, was extremely high, averaging above 5 000 per metric ton of white maize.

“This challenge will continue until the country is able to produce enough maize to feed its own people, which will in turn, reduce the cost of the grain making it affordable to all Swazi (Eswatini) citizens”, mentioned the report. In an effort to encourage increased grain production, the corporation said it would contract farmers to produce specific grains suitable in their areas and would also provide technical services to farmers through introducing the farmer development office in the 2022/23 financial year.

Production

NMC said their main objective of this strategic plan was increased maize production so as to ensure a food secure country and the target was zero white maize imports.

They further mentioned that they anticipated that the corporation increased trading in yellow maize before the end of the current financial year. The report also mentioned that one of NMC challenges was the price regulations of maize which hinders the response to market demands. “The Corporation is currently unable to respond swiftly to market demands as far as the maize price is concerned due to the highly regulated price by government”, they said. They added that the price regulations stifle the operations of the corporation because of the rigidity of the pricing model as a result of the autocratic nature when effecting price changes.

This greatly affects the smooth operations of the business as well as its profitability as it happens at times that the selling price is lower than the buying price because of the slow pace in the price change approval process.

Security

Worth mentioning is that Maize is a staple food for most countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and it remains important for achieving food security in Southern Africa. In the agricultural economy, maize is one of the most important cereal crops in the world for human consumption, animal feed and other industrial raw material requirements. Meanwhile, a Southern Africa report has highlighted that global grain prices have been significantly affected by the conflict in Ukraine, which caused a sudden shift of demand to other suppliers and a remarkable increase in exporter price quotes for coarse grains. Although markets have settled following the spikes in March 2022, maize and wheat prices are currently on an upward trend. Over the coming months, global maize and wheat prices will remain above 2020/21 levels, while rice prices will remain below 2020/21 levels.

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