SA is likely to have a maize surplus next year as favourable weather encourages farmers to increase planting after the previous season’s drought, the head of the largest grain producer group said on Tuesday. A good maize harvest would help lower food prices, which in turn could help contain consumer inflation. The El Nino weather pattern, which ended in May, brought severe drought last season and led to the loss of livestock and the staple maize crop, pushing up food prices. "The positive thing is that we are starting with a lot more moisture in the soil than last year. The start for the season is very positive although there are some dry patches," said Jannie de Villiers, CE of Grain SA. "With the conditions as they are at the moment, we can expect a surplus," he said. SA needs 10.5-million tons of maize a year to meet local consumption needs.

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