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Reference Date: 17-August-2015


  1. Cereal production in 2015 decreases on account of poor seasonal rains that mostly impacted eastern and southern parts of the country

  2. Cereal imports forecast to increase in 2015/16 to compensate for reduced 2015 harvest

  3. Food security conditions deteriorate, reflecting tighter maize supplies

Cereal production decreases in 2015

The 2015 maize crop, harvested in May/June, was estimated 31 percent down from the above-average output of the previous year, and 6 percent below the five-year average. This decline was largely due to an extended dry period between January and March 2015, corresponding with a critical maize development stage, which caused widespread crop losses and reduced yields, offsetting a marginal 1 percent increase in plantings from last year’s high level. However, the poor rains mainly affected the less productive southern and eastern regions; more favourable outputs were registered in the north and western regions, preventing a steeper production decline at the national level. These results are from the joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), conducted in May, the report of which was released in July.

Pastures were also affected by the poor rains and livestock conditions are anticipated to worsen until the start of the 2015/16 seasonal rains, expected in October.

Imports forecast to rise in 2015/16

As a result of the lower domestic cereal output, the maize import requirement for the 2015/16 marketing year (May/April) is estimated at about 88 000 tonnes, comprising of 43 000 tonnes of white maize (for human consumption) and 45 000 tonnes of yellow maize (mainly for feed). In the previous 2014/15 marking year, about 70 000 tonnes were imported, mostly yellow maize.

Although maize import needs are expected to be met, tighter regional maize supplies and rising prices in South Africa, the country’s main source of imported grains, could put upward pressure on domestic maize prices. However, the regulated price system has so far maintained generally stable maize meal prices in 2015.

Food security conditions tighter in 2015/16 on account of lower cereal production

The 2015 FAO/WFP CFSAM results indicated an increase in the number of food insecure, with an estimated 5.5 percent of the population classified as severely food insecure, compared to a low of 3 percent in 2014. The Lubombo Plateau in the eastern part of the country has the highest prevalence of food insecurity, mainly reflecting the poor seasonal rains and low harvests in these areas. The CFSAM report found that the main drivers of food insecurity and the factors that exacerbate households’ vulnerability to shocks are: the high dependence on rainfed maize production, especially in marginal producing areas; the very low income levels of rural small-holders; and the poorly integrated food markets, together with high import prices of food and agricultural inputs.

Relevant links:
 Cereal Supply/Demand Balance Sheet
 Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
 Earth Observation Indicators
 Seasonal Indicators
 Vegetation Indicators
 Precipitation Indicators
 Graphs & Data
 NDVI & Precipitation
 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports & Special Alerts: 2015, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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