Maize is considered Mzansi’s most significant crop which is planted in the summer season. During a recent episode of Food For Mzansi’s Gather To Grow session on Twitter, experts unpacked growing and processing this staple.
Experts Thabile Nkunjana, an agricultural economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), Clifford Mthimkhulu, a grain farmer from Senekal in the Free State, and Keneilwe Raphesu, a mixed farmer from North West shared their insights on growing maize in Mzansi.
Nkunjana predicts that farmers will have better luck with their harvest this year than they did in 2021.
He says that input costs account for the bulk of the money it takes to grow maize. Currently, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine poses a threat to maize production, which is an even bigger problem for farmers.
“This year we are expected to export 15 million tonnes of both yellow and white maize. So far, we have been exporting to Asia, our traditional market. Since the end of September, we [South Africa] have exported at least 1.79 million tonnes.”
Challenges in the industry
Maize cultivation presents a number of difficulties.
Mthimkhulu compares farming to gambling, implying that a farmer’s investment in growing food is made in the hope of a profitable harvest. Yet difficulties like climate change and theft mean there’s a chance you could end up with zero production.
Plant gaps, he claims, are costing farmers money.
Meanwhile, Raphesu encourages farmers to adopt new technologies because it makes tasks easier and more efficient.
“Equipment is important on a farm, especially if you are farming on a larger scale, and you are losing too much. We need to consider the amount of money similar to the security on the farm.”
During this session, experts also discuss:
- The value of best farming practices.
- The initial stages of agricultural expansion and the measures taken to foster its continuation.
- Sustainability in growing corn.
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