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Potential for U.S. Grain Markets Found in South Africa, Tanzania

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has returned from an early December trip to Tanzania and South Africa where it sought out opportunities for U.S. grain sales. The group saw a real need for corn in South Africa and a potential market in Tanzania. 

South Africa usually sources the white and yellow corn that it needs for citizens and livestock locally, but because El Niño caused one of the worst droughts in 24 years, the country is experiencing a serious crop shortage. Some fields aren’t even getting planted because there isn't enough water to sustain growth. 

The country is already looking to southern Texas for white corn since they’ll be planting soon — in February. Alan Tiemann, USGC chairman and Nebraska farmer, sees this export opportunity as temporary since the country typically acts as a net exporter itself.

“The strength of the dollar makes our corn even more expensive for them, “ Tiemann said. “But they’ve got to have food for the animals, so they’ll do what they have to do to take care of them.”

Tiemann heads up a Food for Progress program in Tanzania and was impressed with the program’s ground efforts to create a lively poultry industry in the area. 

“As we grow the market and grow their flocks, the demand for feed increases, and it has to come from somewhere,” Tiemann said. 

Tanzanians have benefited from seminars and a poultry consultant, which has led people with no previous agriculture experience to start raising birds. Others have expanded their flocks in the two years the program has been up and running in Tanzania.

The country typically sources feed from Brazil or Ukraine for better shipping costs, but Tiemann sees potential for U.S. grain sales in the Tanzanian poultry industry. “I think there’s opportunity in growing and developing these markets,” said Tiemann. “Hopefully, in the future, Africa becomes an end user for U.S. grain.”

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