Grain farmers association Grain SA has called for greater transparency in the reporting of import and export contracts, as local producers’ competitiveness was being hampered by unchecked imports. Currently there is no mechanism to report import and export contracts. This is totally one-sided and only the traders have access to this information and the producers don’t. “A great number of permits for US genetically modified organism (GMO) maize imports were recently issued; however, the same GMO events for all grains, including rice, are not available to local producers. Such exceptions should only be made at times when food security is at risk which is not the case this time around.” the organisation argued. Excessive imports of maize will put prices under further pressure which is very detrimental to the profitability of grain producers. “This is detrimental to the profitability of local grain producers, who are already facing pressures from a dry and difficult season,” it said.
Further, Grain SA remains of the position that the current imports mechanism does not promote local producers interests and that the imports cause great uncertainty and allow market players to push the market in a certain direction. “We feel strongly that a free market system can only function optimally if the market information is available to all role-players all the time. The declaration of import and export contracts, as well as changes to it, remains crucial to the market,” Grain SA said.