Over-supply of grain still suppressing maize price in Southern Africa

Good grain harvests are causing below-average maize prices for smallholder farmers in Southern African countries like Zimbabwe and Malawi, said the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET).

According to the network’s September report, maize prices in Malawi and Mozambique are on average about 10% below the five-year average.

“The trend is typical and generally caused by a decline in demand from market purchases as most households continue to consume their own-produced crop.”

Farmers in Malawi are also paid below-average for agricultural commodities like legumes.

Field reports in Zimbabwe show that prices are likely to increase from September onwards, due to higher market demand – households are almost at the end of their own-produced stock.

Despite good harvests, poor families in certain areas in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe might experience crisis levels of food insecurity at the start of 2018, during the peak lean season period. This is when farmers are still waiting for crop to mature.


The livestock industry seems to be in a fair to good condition, due to above-average water availability and supply.

Cash shortages are a troubling factor for some poor families, since some retailers and traders are paying farmers with e.g. grocery items for grain.

According to the National Climate Outlook Forum, the northern parts of the country can expect normal to above-normal rain. In the southern regions, below-average rainfall is predicted from October to December, with above-average rainfall expected during the second half of the rainy season.


According to FEWSNET, certain parts of the southern districts in Malawi are still battling to recover after the previous production seasons, reduced production and marketing and damage caused by fall armyworm.

Large carryover stocks mean maize prices in the country will probably remain low.

Various international climate models suggest Malawi is expected to receive normal to above-normal rainfall between December and February. This means the country can expect a normal agricultural production season in 2018.

This map shows the maize production* of main maize producing countries in Southern and Eastern Africa for 2017 as well as 2016. The map also includes the projected exports and domestic consumption.

*The map was compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure standardization and might differ from local projections made by separate countries.

share this