South Africa feeling the squeeze of Zambian export bans

Pressure is mounting on South Africa for maize supply to their drought stricken neighbours due to recent export bans implemented in Zambia.

According to Agbiz, the South African chamber of agricultural business, Zambia might maintain these export bans, and this could potentially draw regional demand to South Africa.

Unfortunately due to the recurring drought in the southern African region, South Africa would only be able to export about 1 million tons of maize to the region, especially to their neighbours, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Agbiz also says it is estimated that the import needs for Zimbabwe in the 2016/17 season might be as much as 1, 7 million tons for both human and animal needs.

Zambian import bans

The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in Zambia on 14 October instituted measures against the export of maize to “safeguard national food security” until the next harvest, starting in May 2017. The MoA also called on the private sector, millers and the Food Reserve Agency to focus on meeting the local demand for maize and maize products.

To prevent Zambian maize from leaving the country illegally, law enforcement agencies was also asked to be alert and to monitor several border points.

Drought conditions

Zambia was one of the few countries in Southern Africa fortunate enough not be as severely affected by the drought as their neighbours. According to estimates by the Food Agency Reserve (FAO) Zambia was still able to harvest 10% more maize than in 2015, on par with the five year average.

The latest crop estimates released by the South African Crop Estimates Committee in September indicate that 2016 South African maize harvest currently stands at 7, 5 million tons. This is 25% less than the 2015 harvest of 9, 95 million tons, leading South Africa to import white maize for the first time since 2004.

South Africa has currently exported a total of 352 169 tons for the 2016/17 season, but had to import a total of 1, 13 million tons of maize up to date to meet the countries’ maize demands.

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