maize; summer; inputs; land

Southern Africa expected to rebound strongly

A rebound in grain production and improved livestock conditions means food security is recovering in Southern Africa, the FAO said.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Southern Africa is expected to produce 34.6 million tons of grain in 2017 mostly thanks to wetter conditions in the region.

Maize production to rebound

The FAO said cereal production, mostly consisting of maize, “is set to rebound sharply from the drought-reduced level of the previous year while livestock conditions have also improved”.

The total maize output for the region is forecast at 28.8 million tons, around 10 million tons more than the previous year.

The largest contributor to the increase is South Africa who expects to double its production. The improvement is attributed to both an enlarged area planted, instigated by higher prices and a tight supply situation, and higher yields, on account of favourable rains.

Zambia is expected to produce a record cereal harvest, mostly due to significant yearly gains in maize production.

Malawi and Zimbabwe can look forward to annual production increases and maize outputs are expected to increase by more than 0.5 million tons in each country.

Meanwhile, for import-dependent countries like Botswana and Lesotho, above-average levels for outputs in 2017 are expected

 Food insecurity

Some regions, however, still experience food insecurity. An estimated 44% of Zimbabweans living in rural areas are affected by the recent drought. It is expected that limited access to cash might remain a constraint for improved food security.

In the midst of an overall positive outlook, areas affected by fall armyworm and floods will likely continue to experience stressed conditions due to lower harvests.

According to the FAO’s report, a bumper harvest which will replenish food supplies in households can be expected in 2017/2018, while the current decreasing prices are improving access to food.

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