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South Africa Considers Strategic Grain Reserves As Possible El Nino Looms

South Africa, the continent's biggest maize producer and hard hit by an El Nino-triggered drought last year, is considering a strategic grain reserve as a buffer against future shortages, its agriculture minister told Reuters.

Neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia have such reserves, but it would entail a significant policy shift in South Africa, where commercial agriculture is market driven and the state does not act as a buyer and holder of crops.

A strategic grain reserve usually involves the government buying crops and taking responsibility for their storage until they are needed to make up for shortfalls.

"Yes, we are thinking about it," Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana told Reuters late on Tuesday when asked if a grain reserve was being considered.

Charlotte Kesl / World Bank

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