SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa is set to experience substantial growth in oilseed production during 2024-25, rebounding from the mid-summer drought induced by El Niño, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

The April 1 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) forecasts a total production of soybeans, sunflower seed, and rapeseed to reach 3.36 million tonnes in 2024-25, marking a 27% increase from the 2.6 million tonnes produced in 2023-24.

Despite this growth, the area planted for oilseeds is expected to remain consistent at elevated levels, reaching 1.8 million hectares.

The FAS projects soybean production to reach 2.4 million tonnes in 2024-25, reflecting a 32% year-on-year increase.

Sunflower seed is anticipated to reach 700,000 tonnes, up by 19%, while rapeseed is forecasted to hit 260,000 tonnes, a 10% rise.

Following the impressive production forecast, FAS predicts South Africa’s oilseeds exports to recover to about 380,000 tonnes in 2024-25, bouncing back from the 90% decline witnessed in 2023-24 due to the drought.

The FAS highlights the importance of soybean as a rotational crop with corn and rapeseed alongside wheat.

According to the report, Soybeans dominate the largest area at 63% of total oilseed plantings, followed by sunflower seed at 30% and rapeseed at 7%.

On consumption, FAS projects total oilseeds consumption to reach 2 million tonnes in 2024-25 for the nation’s population of 60 million.

Despite the positive outlook for oilseed production, the FAS cautions that South Africa’s economic growth remains lackluster due to ongoing challenges such as electricity supply shortages, policy uncertainty, and logistical infrastructure issues.

These economic woes have constrained consumer spending growth, leading to relatively high food inflation and interest rates, which further dampen the consumption of oils and meats. Consequently, the demand for animal feed and plant oils is expected to experience limited growth.

The majority of soybean, sunflower seed, and rapeseed produced in South Africa is crushed to produce both edible oil for human consumption and protein meal for inclusion in animal feed rations.

In 2022-23, South Africa crushed a record 2.6 million tonnes of oilseeds. The FAS forecasts that the country will continue to crush approximately 2.6 million tonnes in 2023-24 and 2024-25, as stocks ensure sufficient supply to fully utilize crushing capacity.

Oilseed meal production is expected to remain steady at record levels of 1.8 million tonnes in both 2023-24 and 2024-25, given that maximum crushing capacity has been reached.

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