Engineering News reports that the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), a Pretoria-based non-profit organisation, has given South Africans the assurance that they need not be concerned about the availability of food during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
This bureau was created in 2004 to carry out scientifically rigorous and unbiased research relevant to the agricultural sector.
South Africa’s major food and agricultural imports are (from most to least valuable, in rand terms) rice, poultry, wheat and meslin (a mixture of wheat and rye), sugar, palm oil, undenatured ethyl alcohol, leather products, beer, soybean oilcake, animal feed preparations, sunflower oil and live cattle.
BFAP gave the assurance that the world market was well-supplied with all food items.
“Empty food shelves in parts of the country reflect panicky consumer stockpiling and not disrupted food supply chains,” it stated in a report on the impact of Covid-19 on South Africa’s food supplies. The report indicated that South Africa is a surplus producer of food and the value of South Africa’s food exports exceeds imports by a significant margin.”
According to the report, periodic shortfalls will mainly arise due to logistical disruptions caused by lock downs and this would probably only be the case for the specific food items that are typically imported from regions now affected by the crisis.
According to the report, South African countries such as China, Thailand, Brazil, Eswatini and Argentina are the main sources of South Africa’s food imports. The products supplied by China are mainly leather products, animal by-products and textiles. Thailand exports rice to South Africa, Brazil mainly poultry meat, Eswatini sugar, and soybean oilcake (for animal feed) is imported from Argentine.
South Africa’s main food and agricultural imports from the EU is wheat, followed by undenatured ethyl alcohol, sunflower oil, food preparations and poultry meat.
“Even in a scenario where global supply chains disrupt the consistency of rice and wheat imports over the medium term, South Africa will have sufficient white maize to accommodate a relative shift out of rice and wheat to maize,” concluded the BFAP.