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South Africa Considers Establishing Strategic Grain Reserve

Following a severe drought last year, South Africa, the largest maize producing country on the African continent, is considering establishing a strategic grain reserve to lessen the chances of further supply shortages.

The proposal is lofty – although Zambia and Zimbabwe both have grain reserve programs, South Africa’s agricultural economy is market-driven and the state does not act as a grain buyer. Further complicating matters is the challenge of finding the budget to fund such a plan amid South Africa’s current economic environment.

After rains began to return, South Africa is expected to harvest 14.54 million tons of maize this year – nearly double last year’s output and the second largest harvest on record, according to government’s Crop Estimates Committee. The output is also expected to be 40 percent more than the country typically consumes. And with the uncertainty over the return of El Niño, government officials want to adapt the systems in place to ensure bumper crops such as this one are available for the future.

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