maize harvest

The latest on African markets: Zambia, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe

Your monthly update of African markets. Most maize producing countries are at the end of their growing season and the prospects for good harvests looks promising despite the invasion of the fall armyworm.


The Zambian maize harvest is expected to recover in 2016/’17 after smaller harvests in the past year.

The increase in prices coupled with the demand for maize in neighbouring countries will probably encourage higher crop plantings in Zambia.

If the outbreak of fall armyworm in the region is not managed correctly, it could result in the decline of return on yields.

In general, there has been enough maize available in Zambia since the 2015/’16 season.

The transfer of stock is expected to meet demand by the end of the current marketing season in April and thereafter.

Despite large maize stocks and the export ban, the small-holding price of maize and maize-meal remains high.

This is consistent with the seasonality of maize prices which tend to be lower from April due to pressure from the main maize harvest. It is also helped by food stock from the green maize harvest which is coming in.


The export of livestock from Namibia to South Africa improved in the months before December last year. Cattle calves are usually imported in large numbers from Namibia.

Due to the South African’s government strict import regulations, the export of Namibian cattle ended on 1 July last year.

The number of cattle imported from Namibia to South Africa declined from 31 837 in June 2016, to only 2 in July 2016.

This had an impact on prices – farmers were under immense pressure due to the prices they received.

However, the price of cattle calves in South Africa increased.

At the end of the year, there was a gradual increase in the Namibian export of cattle with 17 655 and 14 015 cattle imported respectively in November and December.

During that time, the price of Namibian weaning calves recovered – a tendency which continues.

Import and export conditions are important and play a role in the marketing and price of cattle.

The export of cattle from Namibia to South Africa makes up 56% of the total market share, with a total of 165 927 animals exported last year.


Due to a below-average harvest during the long and short rain period, as well as the decline in neighbouring countries which also experienced a below-average harvest, the maize stock decreased in Kenyan markets.

The decrease in the availability of most staple foods on the market comes at a time of high demand. This causes an increase in the cost of staple foods in most markets.

It is expected that the current national food security situation will persist at least until the end of May.

On the other hand, maize supply will be limited in East-Africa due to below average harvests in most countries. As a result, maize prices in Kenya are expected to increase by the middle of the year as stock declines.

The Kenyan Seed Company reassured farmers that there will be enough certified seed for planting, which is expected to start in April in most countries.


The maize offer in Zimbabwe is likely to increase during April and thereafter as maize reaches the market.

Promising rainfall during production time and a bigger surface on which to plant will have an impact on the total harvest collected. This will lead to the recovery of the small harvest after last year’s drought.

Despite favourable rainfall, farmers in the southern regions expect below normal grain production due to shortages of production resources, pests and smaller planting areas.

The northern and other high-production areas are expected to yield an average harvest this season.

Heavy rainfall led to erosion, damage, spillage and leaching in many areas. This could limit the crop prospects in the affected areas.

In addition, the occurrence of fall armyworm may pose a risk to crop prospects if not managed correctly.

The production of cotton and tobacco is also expected to increase this year, mainly thanks to expansion in the seed area.

Market report supplied and compiled by Karabo Takadi, agricultural economist at ABSA.

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