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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 14-June-2017


  1. Cereal production in 2017 expected to nearly double compared to drought-reduced 2016 output

  2. High yields reflect beneficial weather and good access to agricultural inputs

  3. Cereal prices fall, while import requirements in 2017/18 forecast to contract on account of production rebound

  4. Food security conditions anticipated to improve in 2017/18

Cereal production in 2017 forecast to rebound strongly

Cereal production is forecast to nearly double in 2017 in comparison to the drought-reduced output of 2016. The bulk of this year’s increase reflects significant gains in maize, mostly from the commercial sector, and millet production, while smaller increases have been forecast for the sorghum and wheat harvests. On a geographic basis, large yearly increases are expected in the northcentral regions of Oshana and Oshikoto.

Beneficial seasonal rains, despite a delayed start, are mostly behind this year’s steep production upturn, which particularly favoured dry-land maize producers. In addition, good availability and access to agricultural inputs enabled farmers to fully capture the benefits of the favourable weather conditions, further supporting the year-on-year production gain.

Outbreaks of Fall Army Worm (a new invasive species to the region) were also reported in several northern regions, mainly affecting the maize crop. However, the impact on production is reported to be minimal.

The heavy rains have also boosted pasture conditions and helped to replenish water reserves following two consecutive drought-affected rainy seasons. As a result, livestock body conditions have generally improved. By contrast, rains were not as plentiful in the western region of Erongo and resulted in retarded pasture regrowth and sustained poor livestock conditions.

Maize import requirements cut in 2017/18 due to larger expected harvest, while grain prices fall

The maize import requirement in the 2017/18 marketing year (May/April) is forecast at just over 200 000 tonnes, significantly down on last year and previous five-year average levels. The contraction is on account of the rebound in the national cereal output. As in previous years, virtually the entire import volume is expected to be sourced from South Africa.

Reflecting lower grain prices in South Africa, as well as the favourable domestic production prospects, maize meal prices have generally fallen since the start of the year. As of May, prices of maize meal were up to 30 percent below their year-earlier levels. Similarly, prices of millet and wheat (flour) were down on an annual basis.

Food security anticipated to improve in 2017/18

After having deteriorated in 2016/17 due to below-average cereal harvests, poor livestock conditions and higher cereal prices, food security conditions are anticipated to improve in 2017/18, primarily driven by an expected increase in agricultural output. Up until March 2017, the Government supported over 595 000 food insecure persons through the Drought Relief Food Programme.