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Reference Date: 09-August-2022


  1. National maize production estimated at above‑average level in 2022, underpinned by upturn in plantings

  2. Import requirements forecast to decrease in 2022/23 marketing year (May/April)

  3. Prices of maize, main food staple, remained at elevated levels in mid‑2022

  4. Food insecurity numbers projected to decrease at end of 2022 compared to previous year

National maize production estimated above five‑year average in 2022

Harvesting of the 2022 main season cereal crops, almost entirely consisting of maize, concluded in June. Total cereal production is estimated at 127 000 tonnes, 30 percent above the previous five‑year average; the bulk of this production is concentrated in the Manzini Region.

The large output results from an above‑average area planted with maize, estimated at 75 000 hectares, almost 45 percent more than the short‑term average. Cereal crops benefited from mostly favourable weather conditions and the average national maize yield was estimated at a near‑average level. However, dry spells in February 2022 and delays in the distribution of some farm inputs under the government’s input subsidy programme, resulted in low yields in localized areas, curbing overall crop productivity.

Import requirements forecast to decrease in 2022/23

Cereal import requirements, mostly maize, rice and wheat, are forecast at a below‑average level of 180 000 tonnes in the 2022/23 marketing year (May/April). The low import needs reflect the large domestic outturn of maize, while imports of rice and wheat, which are produced in negligible volumes in the country, are forecast at average levels.

Maize prices at higher year‑on‑year levels, wheat prices at record highs

Prices of maize meal, the key food staple, increased in the first five months of 2022 and, in May, were 3 percent higher on a yearly basis. The higher prices principally reflect trends in South Africa, the country’s main supplier of grains. Although maize grain prices in South Africa remained elevated as of early August, they have decreased since June and, in combination with the large maize harvest in 2022 and reduced import needs, pressure on domestic maize prices could ease.

Wheat flour prices were at record highs in May 2022. This mainly reflects the elevated global prices and the country’s high dependence on imported wheat to satisfy national consumption needs.

Food insecurity numbers lower year on year in 2022/23

According to the latest IPC acute food insecurity analysis (July 2022), about 259 000 people between October 2022 and March 2023 are projected to face IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and above levels of food insecurity. This figure is 20 percent lower than the estimate in the same period in 2021/22, owing to the overall positive impact of the large domestic cereal production on rural households’ food supplies and incomes. However, the food insecure number still includes populations in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency), who are likely to face large food consumption gaps and forced to adopt emergency coping strategies. The high prices of essential food products and fuel, and the impact of localized crop losses caused by weather shocks, are the main drivers of food insecurity in 2022/23.

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