SA’s wheat industry wants grading and planting rules for the cereal relaxed to help increase yields and revive production after farmers sowed the smallest area since 1931 this season.
Possible changes to grading terms and to a voluntary agreement that stipulates which wheat varieties producers will plant, known as release criteria, were among proposals the industry was considering, Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers said last week.
“The quality requirements of the milling and baking industries are too stringent,” he said. Allowing farmers to plant cultivars that focused on higher yields would help their profitability, “and then hopefully they’ll start planting again. Hopefully we can produce more than half of what we need at the moment,” he said.
While farmers in some provinces had substituted the grain for more-profitable, higher-yielding crops such as maize, those in the Western Cape, responsible for 61% of wheat output in 2013, had fewer alternatives, he said.
“The Western Cape farmers have no option. We need to help them … dig out of that hole.”
Farmers in the Free State, who in the 1980s were the biggest wheat producers and planted the cereal on 1-million hectares, reduced this to 69,500 hectares last year, Wandile Sihlobo, an economist at Grain SA, said on March 18. The region is now the largest maize producer, accounting for 44% of the country’s total last year.
Growers planted wheat on 476,570 hectares last year, the smallest area in more than 80 years and 76% below the 1989 peak, South African Grain Information Service data shows.
The wheat-reference grade now traded on the JSE’s South African Futures Exchange is B1, which has a minimum protein content of 12% and is the highest quality available. Poorer grades of wheat are being imported. The reference was in place until September 30 2016, the JSE said on February 26.
The industry, through the Wheat Forum, and the JSE are in discussions about amending this.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/lower-quality-wheat-will-boost-production)