In South Africa, Transnet Port Terminals is preparing its facilities to handle an additional 7mt (million tonnes) of import grain to offset domestic shortages brought about by the driest spell the country has experienced since 1992.

This will be the largest importation of grain over the past seven years and will take place in the period up to April 2017.

The amount of 3.8mt of the total will be maize, which is completely at odds with South Africa’s normal role as a net exporter of maize. The country normally consumes 10.5mt of this commodity annually.

In 2007–08, South Africa imported 1mt of maize, along with other commodities such as wheat, soyabean, rice, peanuts and sunflower.

Transnet has set up a dedicated team to oversee the increase in import capacity for grain.

Cape Town, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Richard’s Bay will all be utilized, although Durban has the largest grain terminal, which handles around 1.4mt per annum. Nevertheless, it will have to use inland silos as well as those within the port to handle the growth in tonnage over the next few months.

Movement of grain around the country will be the responsibility of Transnet Freight Rail, which has committed 3,284 wagons to transport domestic and over-the-border maize cargo. No fewer than 2,481 of these wagons have recently been added to the wagon pool, as imports are ramped up.