Drought-stricken farmers in SA could come under extra pressure after the rand weakened in the fall-out from a credit-ratings downgrade to junk status, which could also push up food prices, industry experts said. Ratings agencies S&P and Fitch downgraded South African debt to subinvestment grade while Moody’s placed its sovereign credit rating on review, citing President Jacob Zuma’s decision to fire finance minister Pravin Gordhan as one reason. The price of July’s white maize contract rose to R2,008 on Wednesday, from R1,700 on March 27 when Zuma recalled Gordhan from an investor roadshow before firing him. The rand had dropped more than 10% since then. Rand weakness would also squeeze farmers who had borrowed following the 2015 drought, the region’s worst on record. Farmers’ debts were expected to have risen more than 10% to R160bn yearly in 2016, experts said. "We have already seen a response to the weaker exchange rate with prices ticking up," FNB senior agricultural economist P...

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