Grain South Africa (Grain SA) has estimated that the price of bread and pap are set to rise by up to 40% this year because of the drought.
Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers told the portfolio committee on agriculture, forestry and fisheries yesterday that since February last year, the prices of grain had already increased by 22%.
“Consumers are only paying 20% [more] now. It could be 30% and 40% even in the next two to three months,” De Villiers said.
“It’s a massive crisis… It’s going to be a tough, tough year ahead in terms of food prices. Affordability is going to be an issue especially for those who are poor; especially for those who are jobless; who get retrenched… there have been a lot of retrenchments (in the mining industry) and those people are really going to struggle this year.”
De Villiers was optimistic though that there was enough maize to fill the shelves for now.
“I think we will have enough; wherever short, we will import… I don’t think we will run out of food but we are going to see very high food prices,” he said.
There was an estimated 7.4 million tonnes of maize harvested with a shortfall of 3.8 million tonnes, which may have to be imported.
Exports to other countries would also be affected.
Sihlobo said 42% of maize produced in South Africa went to Southern African Development Community countries.
This raised concerns from MPs but fears were allayed by De Villiers, who said because of the increase in prices, SA maize would be too expensive to buy.
De Villiers also urged the committee to put pressure on government to assist emerging black farmers.