The maize industry is an important earner of foreign exchange for the country through exports of maize and maize products.
The most important countries from which South Africa imported maize during the past three years were the United States, Argentina and Kenya.
South Africa exports maize mainly to Japan, Iran, Kenya and Venezuela. Other important markets are Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malaysia. Maize products are exported mainly to Mozambique, Angola and Zambia.
Imports and exports of maize and maize products
Farmers and farmworkers
Maize is produced by approximately 9 000 commercial farmers who provide direct employment for an estimated workforce of 128 000.
It is the staple diet of the people of South Africa. Maize is therefore produced by emerging farmers to provide in their basic household requirements. Excess production is sold as green mealies or grain to supplement the household income. Research is aimed at optimising production per unit area in order to improve the contribution of emerging farmers to the national maize production.
In addition, work opportunities are provided in various industries relying on maize as a raw material. The maize milling, stock-feed, wet milling, poultry and dairy industries are directly dependent on maize for their survival and employ thousands of workers.
Prior to May 1997, the Maize Board administered various arrangements relating to the marketing of maize. These marketing functions were funded by means of statutory levies.
The single-channel fixed-price system for maize on the local market was repealed at the end of April 1995, after which the marketing of maize became free. With regard to international marketing, single-channel export pools were operated by the Maize Board until April 1997.
Up to April 1997, the functions which were performed by the Maize Board were funded by statutory levies on maize. Research was financed by the Board and carried out by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other research organisations.
On 30 April 1997, the Maize Boards functions were terminated. All its assets were transferred to the Maize Trust to be used to the benefit of the entire maize industry. No statutory levies are applicable since May 1997. Producers are also in a positions to make their own marketing arrangements. Producers negotiate prices according to market forces, spot, contract or futures prices. With regard to exports, phytosanitary requirements and quality standards must be adhered to and a Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) certificate must be obtained. A tariff currently amounting to R31,50/t is applicable to imports.
The function of providing information on maize is currently performed by the South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS).
Research is financed with income from the Maize Trust and is undertaken by the ARC, CSIR and other research organisations.
National Department of Agriculture
Directorate Economics and Policy Analysis
Directorate Statistical Information
National Agricultural Marketing Council