Reference Date: 25-October-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Despite a mid-season dry spell, the aggregate 2013 maize production is estimated at a near-average level
Wheat production in 2013, for harvest at the end of October, is expected at a slightly lower level than in 2012
Large quantities of maize exported during the first half of 2013/14 marketing year (May/April)
Maize prices lower than previous year, but white maize prices increasing slightly, reflecting tighter supply expectations
Favourable rains forecast for 2013/14 cropping season
Land preparation and plantings for the 2013/14 cropping season (October-July) are well underway. Planting intentions indicate a 4 percent contraction for maize to 2.7 million hectares, while a 12 percent increase is foreseen for sorghum. Farmers are reportedly opting to plant oilseeds instead; however, improved precipitation in the next month may help to stimulate an increase in the area planted to maize. Although effective rains have yet to start in the main maize growing regions, forecasts indicate an increased chance of normal to above normal rains for the season, with a higher likelihood heavier precipitation during the first quarter of 2014. This is expected to bring some relief to the North West province, which was declared a drought area in September.
Output in 2013 recovers following mid-season dry spell
The final aggregate (commercial and non-commercial) production estimate for the 2013 maize crop is put at 12.4 million tonnes, slightly below the above-average level of the previous year. Despite a sharp reduction in production forecasts earlier in the year, following a dry spell in the first quarter of 2013, estimates were revised upwards for the yellow maize crop - predominantly used for animal feed and mostly grown in the eastern provinces where seasonal rains were more favourable. However, moisture deficits adversely impacted white maize production, and final estimates for this crop were 19 percent lower than 2012’s output. Yellow maize production in 2013 surpassed that of white maize for the first time in 19 seasons, contributing to the near-average aggregate output.
Harvesting of the winter wheat crop will begin at the end of October, and is forecast to reach 1.8 million tonnes, 2 percent below the previous year’s production. A small reduction in the area planted and lower projected yields account for the anticipated decrease this year.
Maize exports decline in 2012/13
Maize exports in the current 2013/14 marketing year (May/April) are forecast to reach nearly 2 million tonnes, similar to last year’s level. By October, half way through the marketing year, over 1.4 million tonnes had been exported, with approximately 600 000 tonnes of yellow maize delivered to Japan. Given the high average monthly rate recorded so far, the pace of exports is expected to decline over the next six months. Exports to the structurally cereal deficit neighbouring countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS) are estimated at approximately 213 000 tonnes, satisfying about 45 percent of their combined import requirements. Exports to Zimbabwe have exceeded 80 000 tonnes, as the country seeks to bridge its larger national deficit in 2013/14.
Overall lower maize prices, but diverging trends for yellow and white maize
Reflecting the differing production performances, prices of yellow and white maize have diverged since June, but both remain below their levels of one year earlier. White maize prices in September were about Rand 185 per tonne higher than those of yellow maize, as expectations of tighter supplies at the end of 2013/14, as a result of a reduced output, have put upward pressure on price levels. While the higher output for yellow maize has pushed prices down by 6 percent since July. Overall, the lower year-on-year prices of both commodities are underpinned by reduced international prices, but strong export demand and a weaker Rand has tempered further declines.