THE HISTORY OF MAIZE
"Maize is considered as the most important grain crop in South Africa as harvest and production levels can have a noticeable impact on economic growth and food security. Since the deregulation of the maize price in 1991, the market has mainly been influenced by market forces such as supply and demand."
Maize is an ancient grain that is believed to have originated in Southern Americas by ancient Mexican civilisations like the Olmec and Maya tribes. From here maize spread throughout Southern America and travelled to the North Americas. It quickly migrated during the Age of Exploration which started in the late 15th century due to its adaptability to various environments and climates where it became a staple food in many countries. Precisely how maize arrived in Africa is still uncertain as accounts vary, but many historians believe that it was introduced by Portuguese travelers and missionaries.
Maize is considered as the most important grain crop in South Africa as harvest and production levels can have a noticeable impact on economic growth and food security. Since the deregulation of the maize price in 1991, the market has mainly been influenced by market forces such as supply and demand. Two-thirds of maize produced in South Africa is consumed by the local market in the form of maize products or as animal feed. Maize, in South Africa as in many countries across the world, is a main source of nutrition and the local market is considered to have a discerning taste when it comes down to their ‘mealie meel’ which many eat three times a day. Seeing as maize is an internationally traded commodity, the South African market is also subjected to international market influences as is currently experienced. Netwerk 24 reported that despite this year’s increased production, consumers might only see a decrease by the end of the year, depending on the petrol price.1 This is due to an increased import of maize that had to fill the gap created by the drought that impacted local production in the two previous production years.
According to a study conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries on The Maize Market Value Chain Profile (2012), South Africa’s main maize producing provinces are the Free State (39%), Mpumalanga (21%) and North West (23%)
The value chain in South Africa still mostly follows the traditional model that consists of producers (farmers) that supply to silo owners. From here the maize is marketed and sold to millers or animal feed producers, where after the product enters the retail or wholesale market. It is only then that it reaches the end consumer.
Despite South Africa’s 2017 bumper crop, the international imports mentioned earlier will likely affect most farmers negatively if they restrict themselves to the traditional value chain. Roff manufactures and implements high quality and affordable maize milling plants and hammer mills that can be used to supply to the consumer market and stock feed industries. Our milling plants are designed to meet the milling needs of producers that wish to diversify. We carry out both roles of supplier and a project manager and offer a full turnkey project management service for the design and construction of new mills. For medium-size operations, Roff provides maize mills from 1 000 kg/h to 10 000kg/h according to the client’s needs.
South Africa produces approximately 8,0 million tons of maize annually on approximately 3,1 million ha of land.3 This year, however, due to favourable weather conditions, South Africa produced approximately 16 million tons, almost double compared to 2016 and by far the most in comparison to the last seven years.
It might be too early to tell what the 2017/2018 season holds as weather conditions fluctuate and many farmers further south are still in the grips of the drought. Add to that the political instability currently experienced, the fluctuating petrol price and the surplus from this year and it could mean that producers will have to fight a lower maize price, once again, to keep their heads above water.4 One way forward for producers, we might argue, is to become self-sustainable by implementing a Roff R70 maize mill to take control over the market by shortening the value chain to the consumer. That not only gives the producers more market freedom, but also improves food security and competitive prices for the consumer.
To learn more about Roff Industries and what they can do for you contact us on +27(0)56 212 2697 or email@example.com
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