ICYMI: Rains, price hikes spell ‘costly’ year for farmers

ICYMI: Crop farmers were optimistically expecting to lift area plantings of summer crops by 3% this year, but environmental and economic factors have conspired against them. The official numbers are expected later this week

Crop farmers: Preliminary area plantings data for 2021/22 summer crops to be released this week. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Preliminary area plantings data for 2021/22 summer crops to be released this week. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Ahead of the preliminary area plantings data for 2021/22 summer crops to be released this week, all indications are that the area of plantings are less than farmers initially anticipated. However, experts doubt that South Africa will turn into a net importer of major staple grains. This is according to Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz).

At the start of the 2021/22 production season in October 2021, crop farmers were optimistic. They planned to lift the area plantings of summer crops by 3% year-on-year to 4,3 million hectares in the 2021/22 production season.

Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at Agbiz. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

However, following the ongoing locust outbreaks and excessive rains in parts of the country, and rising input costs, it is critical to know how much of the initially intended 4,3 million hectares were ultimately planted, Sihlobo wrote in the Agbiz newsletter..

Some producers initially feared that the rising input costs for fertiliser and agrochemicals would potentially discourage plantings. Higher shipping costs and oil price contributed to these price surges, along with firmer global demand from an expanding agricultural sector.

“This means that South African farmers incurred higher costs in the 2021/22 season with the hope that a favourable weather outlook and higher commodity prices would be financially rewarding. But as we have now observed, the excessive rains delayed plantings in some regions, and in others, damaged the crops.

“This means that the 2021/22 season could be a financially costly year for farmers that experience losses in yields due to floods,” Sihlobo pointed out.

The Crop Estimates Committee will release the preliminary plantings data on Thursday afternoon, January 27. All indications and various crop farmers’ surveys suggest that the area plantings will be less than farmers initially anticipated. 

Sihlobo said the first production estimates will begin to make the situation clearer once these are released a month later, on February 28. Agbiz, however, does not expect that the country will turn into a net importer of major staple grains this year.

ALSO READ: Input costs dampen optimism for 2022

Tender scam in Limpopo

The department of agriculture, land reform and rural development has issued a warning to the public about a fraudulent tender contract appointment letter circulating in Limpopo.

The letter calls on businesses to supply and install a 40km diamond mesh fence around the Tafelkop Farm in the Ellias Motsoaledi local municipality within the Sekhukhune District Municipality in Limpopo. It has been flagged as a scam intended to extort money from unsuspecting business owners.

According to the department, the appointment letter has the correct department name and logo, but with a forged signature purported to belong a Mr L Mahloromela, an official of the department, and the incorrect email address and cellphone number.

According to the fraudulent letter, business people are asked to make an upfront payment of R3000 to secure appointment as a service provider to supply and install the fence. The fraudsters strictly require the money to be deposited into an untraceable money market platform after which they disappear with the deposit. 

The department has made an appeal to the public to ignore these types of letters and verify any information relating to tenders with the department.

The department confirmed that the bid was advertised on the official channels and is still in the evaluation stage. Members of the public are encouraged to contact the department directly using the correct departmental contact information which can be found on the official departmental website at  www.dalrrd.gov.za.

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