Reference Date: 17-March-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Cereal production in 2015 forecast to decrease, largely due to drier weather in southern parts of the country
Reflecting strong recovery in 2014 cereal output, import requirements decreased, while prices remained below their year-earlier levels
Food security improved significantly in 2014/15, with an estimated 76 percent decline in number of people requiring assistance. However, conditions in 2015/16 are likely to be aggravated in areas where crop production is expected to decline
Mixed production prospects for 2015 cereal crops
Harvesting of the 2015 cereal crops will begin in May 2015 and current conditions point to mixed production prospects. Following a late onset of seasonal rains that delayed plantings, generally favourable precipitation was received in the more productive northern provinces and cereal production in these parts is expected to be average to above-average. However, in southern regions, which are often subject to prolonged dry spells, production is expected to decline from the good levels of the previous year due to generally below-average rains. Weather forecasts for March-May point to an increased likelihood that southern provinces will receive normal to below-normal rains, implying limited potential for crops to recover from water stress.
Overall, national production is expected to decrease from last year’s bumper harvest on account of the anticipated declines in the south, but to remain close to the average. The Government’s first crop assessment is expected to be released soon, and will provide further details on expected cereal production in 2015.
Strong recovery in 2014 maize production
In 2014, maize production recovered strongly, increasing by 82 percent to 1.46 million tonnes from the previous year’s drought-reduced output. Both increased plantings and higher yields contributed to the larger output. Production of sorghum and millet also registered sharp rebounds, reflecting larger plantings. Overall, cereal production was estimated at 1.75 million tonnes in 2014.
Lower maize import requirements estimated in 2014/15
Reflecting the bumper maize output in 2014, import requirements in the 2014/15 marketing year (April/March) are estimated at approximately 200 000 tonnes, significantly below the 500 000 tonnes estimated in the previous year.
Prices of maize remained lower than a year earlier
Prices of maize are generally below their year-earlier levels as of January 2015, reflecting the improved supply situation. In addition, lower fuel prices and a stronger the US dollar (the most used currency in the country) against the South African rand, where a large proportion of food imports are sourced from, have also contributed to lessening upward price pressure.
Food security improved, but conditions likely to worsen in 2015/16
The food security situation improved significantly in 2014/15, largely reflecting the better supply situation and lower prices of maize that have contributed to improving food access. Between January and March 2015, the number of food insecure people is estimated at about 565 000 people, down sharply from the 2.2 million persons estimated in January-March 2014. The provinces of Matabeleland North and South were assessed to have the highest proportion of food insecure households. Food insecurity is likely to be aggravated in 2015/16, particularly in southern areas, where crop production is expected to decrease.