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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 06-April-2018


  1. Cereal production in 2018 forecast to fall slightly, due to dry weather conditions, but still exceed average

  2. Maize meal prices down on yearly basis, mostly reflecting reduced prices in South Africa, country’s main source of grains

  3. Food security conditions stable in most parts of country due to good output in 2017 but expected production decline in 2018 anticipated to aggravate situation in dry weather-affected areas

Cereal production in 2018 forecast to fall slightly, but still to exceed average

The 2018 main season cereal crop is expected to be harvested in June and current prospects point to an output of 136 000 tonnes, slightly below 2017’s level but still above the previous five-year average. The moderate year-on-year decline would largely reflect the irregular and below-average rainfall that has been observed since the start of the cropping season in October 2017, with more pronounced dry weather conditions in western and southern regions. However, seasonal rains performed slightly better in the main cereal-producing regions of the north and, in consideration of the heavier rainfall since late February, production prospects in these areas are generally satisfactory. In the west, east and south (minor cereal-producing areas), the poor rains are expected to restrain potential cereal yields, while livestock conditions have also been adversely affected on account of poor pasture regrowth and low water supplies.

Although the Fall Armyworm was detected in several regions, the impact on production is reported to be minimal.

Imports fall, reflecting larger national harvest in 2017

Cereal imports are forecast to fall in the 2017/18 marketing year (May/April) to under 200 000 tonnes, significantly down on last year’s volume and the previous five-year average; the bulk of the cereal imports consist of maize. The yearly decline is attributed to the large national output in 2017, which could satisfy an increased proportion (37 percent) of the domestic consumption requirements compared to the average (27 percent).

Prices of maize meal generally below year-earlier levels

Mirroring trends in South Africa, the main source of imported cereals, prices of maize meal were down from their year-earlier levels as of February 2018. In addition, the annual overall food inflation rate, a sub-component of the national consumer price index, was estimated at 2 percent in February, significantly below the 11.3 percent registered a year earlier.

Stable food security conditions

Current food security conditions are reported to be stable, according to the latest Government assessment conducted in February 2018, with most households still consuming crops from the 2017 harvest; an estimated 214 000 people were assessed to be food insecure in 2017.

In 2018, a small increase in the number of food insecure is anticipated, which would primarily reflect the impact of poor rains this season, notably in the northwest, west and southern regions. The official results from the Government’s food security evaluation are expected to be available in June.

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