Positive outlook for agricultural exports

A predicted change in weather patterns could bring some relief to southern African agricultural producers who have recently seen production and export revenue losses due to severe drought.
“Long term weather forecasts predict a 55- 60% chance of the current El Niño weather pattern transitioning into a reverse weather pattern known as La Niña,” said First National Bank (FNB) senior agricultural economist, Paul Makube. He added that were was therefore a high probability of above-normal rainfall early in spring this year, which would result in improved agricultural production.
Makube told FTW Online that, weather permitting, agricultural producers should be able increase their planting in the season ahead. “Farmers are encouraged to plant crops and livestock feed and the agricultural industry should be back to a normal production cycle by the next season,” he said.
Johan Pienaar, deputy executive at agricultural industry association Agri SA, pointed out that while “nothing is certain until the harvester has done its job”, FNB seemed to be “spot-on” with its projections. “If the possibility of El Niño transitioning into La Niña comes to fruition, then we could see much stronger agricultural production for 2017.”
Pienaar said that improved rainfall would not only boost the summer grain crop – which was most affected by the drought – but would enable a greater yield of livestock grazing fields, allowing for herd rebuilding.
This in turn could bring down the high prices of meat, pork, poultry and dairy products. Although in the case of beef products, the prices could remain high in the interim as herd rebuilding takes longer and supply would remain tight.
Pienaar predicted that exports could make a recovery by the middle of 2017.
However, despite the benefits of a predicted La Niña weather pattern change, Makube said it would take commercial farmers about two years to fully recoup financial losses incurred due to the drought.
“Farmers are also urged to explore new farming technology and strategies to ensure sustainability of agriculture and food security, as climate change creates increasing uncertainty over weather patterns,” said Makube.

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