The Cape bee, a subspecies of honeybee from the southwestern tip of South Africa, sometimes breaks the rules of the bee world. "Female worker bees can escape their queen’s control, take over other colonies and reproduce asexually — with no need for males," reports the New York Times, a strategy that may assure survival in dire times but also reduces genetic vigor.
The first shipment of U.S. beef has arrived in South Africa, part of a reopening of a market that was closed to U.S. beef, pork and poultry for years, said the USDA.
In response to the worst drought in a century, South Africa will relax some of its rules on importing GMO corn so it can ramp up supplies of the grain, says Reuters.
Drought and excessive heat prevented farmers from planting a crop in much of South Africa's corn-growing region and the season is advancing; pollination and kernel-filling takes place in February and March in much of the country. USDA slashed its estimate of the nation's corn harvest to 8 million tonnes, down by one-third from a month ago and far below normal for South Africa, which normally supplies corn to other countries in its region.
South Africa has agreed to remove barriers to U.S. poultry, beef and pork, said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. The United States threatened at the end of 2015 to revoke duty-free status for agricultural products from South Africa because it blocked U.S. meat. "The true test of our success will be based on the ability of South African consumers to buy American product in local stores," said Froman.
Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana said South Africa, an agricultural bellwether, "might be compelled to import maize by April or May due to ongoing drought, reports The Citizen newspaper.
Hot weather and scanty rainfall are dimming the outlook for crops and livestock in southern Africa, says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Some farmers have delayed sowing crops while waiting for rain while dry weather hurts emerging crops. "It's the sixth week of the cropping season now and there's not enough moisture in the soil," said an FAO official.
If South Africa fails to make a concerted effort to eliminate barriers to poultry, pork and beef imports, it could lose agricultural trade benefits with the United States, reports The Hill newspaper.
Trade groups speaking for U.S. chicken and hog farmers asked the government to withdraw, or at a minimum restrict, trade benefits for South Africa until it provides more access for U.S. meat imports, reports Feedstuffs.
South Africa to resume imports of U.S. bone-in chicken meat, "initially 65,000 tonnes a year, under an agreement reach by the two countries," said Reuters.
Drought will limit South Africa's corn crop to 11.5 million tonnes, nearly one-quarter less than last year's harvest, the USDA says in its monthly WASDE report. "February dryness and periodic heat, particularly in the western and central growing regions," disrupted pollination and slashed the likely yield, according to the report. South Africa is an important regional supplier and often acts as an indicator of prospects in the southern part of the continent.
Senators from two of the leading U.S. poultry-producing states are seeking leverage to force South Africa to drop its tariffs on imports of U.S. poultry meat, says the New York Times.
Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, recounts the shortcomings of the food system in a commentary in Business Day, a South African newspaper: "(T)he ability of millions to...