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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 14-June-2017


  1. Maize production foreseen to recover in 2017 on account of improved weather conditions

  2. Import forecast cuts in 2017/18 marketing year, reflecting expectations of larger maize output

  3. Declining prices of maize on account of lower import prices and good production prospects

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

Cereal production forecast to recover in 2017

Harvesting of the 2017 main season cereal crops is expected to finalize at the end of June and production is forecast to increase from the reduced output of 2016 to near-average levels. Improved weather conditions and notably increased rainfall amounts, are largely behind the expected year-on-year gain. Drier conditions in localized parts of the low-producing regions of Lubombo (east) and Shiselweni (south) and an outbreak of Fall Army Worms are likely to constrain yields in the affected areas.

Imports forecast to drop reflecting improved domestic output in 2017

Imports of maize in the 2017/18 marketing year (May/April) are forecast to fall compared to the previous year as an expected improved domestic output will limit requirements for external supplies.

In the recently-completed 2016/17 marketing year, about 130 000 tonnes of maize were imported, nearly 30 percent above the previous year, reflecting the drought-reduced output of 2016.

Prices of maize fall

On the back of decreasing prices in South Africa, the country’s main source of imported grains, and favourable prospects for the 2017 harvest, maize meal prices have declined in recent months. As of April 2017, prices were down in all monitored markets by up to 22 percent on an annual basis.

Food security expected to improve

Food security conditions are expected to improve in 2017/18, mostly reflecting the better prospects for crop and livestock production, while the lower prices are currently enhancing food access. According to the national Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s (VAC’s) evaluation, the number of food insecure was estimated at 638 000 people in 2016/17, nearly double the level compared to the previous year. This number is anticipated to fall in 2017/18, with new VAC’s estimates expected to be released in late June/early July 2017.

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