Expatica news

S.Africa to import maize after driest season in 100 years

Drought-ravaged South Africa said Friday it would import six million tonnes of the local staple maize — half of the average annual harvest — after the driest season in 100 years.

“If the country is to survive beyond May of this year we need to have five to six million (tonnes of maize),” Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana, announced.

South African farmers produce an average 12 million tonnes of the grain each year, but can harvest as much as 14 million during a good season.

The minister spoke a day after the country’s meteorological services department declared 2015 the driest in 112 years.

The severe drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon has also affected most of the countries in the region, some of which traditionally rely on South Africa for food imports.

International experts say the 2015-16 El Nino is the strongest measured since 1997-98.

Sparked by a warming in sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, El Nino periodically wreaks havoc on world weather patterns, causing exceptional drought in some parts and floods in others.