JOHANNESBURG – Drought-stricken South Africa should be able to import enough white maize to meet the needs of consumers who regard the yellow variety as only fit for livestock, Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Tuesday.
In South Africa, white maize is made into what is known locally known as pap, the main source of calories for many households, and a critical shortage looms after the country experienced its driest year on record in 2015.
“Everything is on track so people will not be exposed to yellow maize … There will be white maize available for human consumption and yellow maize for animal feed,” Zokwana told Reuters in a telephone interview.
WATCH: Drought hits SA farmers hard
Last month, the state-run Land Bank said that drought-stricken farmers could apply for concessional loans to help see them through the lean season.
The bank, which focuses on the agriculture sector, said in a statement it had raised R400 million from the government-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for drought relief measures.
It said farmers in provinces declared drought disaster areas KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and Free State could apply for the loans immediately.
“The loans can be used as a source of emergency working capital to minimise further losses to current farming operations, carry over debt as well as to repair and replace weather damaged property and equipment,” the Land Bank said.
It said the loans will be offered at three basis points below the prime rate, which would be 7.5 percent, and can be repaid over an extended period.
“The Land Bank also offers a facility for tax relief to drought hit livestock farmers in disaster declared areas. Under this programme, farmers are granted exemption from income tax for livestock sold as a result of the drought,” it said.
South Africa last year recorded its lowest rainfall levels since records began in 1904, scorching the key maize crop, which is forecast to be 27 percent lower this year, and parching grazing land used for livestock.
Source – ewn