wheat disease; cereal; tillage

Southern Africa helps drive cereal production upsurge

Strong production gains in the Southern African and Far East Asian regions have pushed up the 2017 annual cereal output of Low-Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDC), a leading global food security agency has said.

LIFDCs are defined based on the level of annual national per capita gross national income (GNI), the net food trade position and self-exclusion, which is allowed in case a country that meets the first 2 criteria opts out of the LIFDC categorisation.

In its December 2017 Crop Prospects and Food Situation report for LIFDCs, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said global cereal production went up in 2017 due to farm production surges in the African and Asian regions.

“The Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries 2017 aggregate cereal output is estimated at 482.4 million tonnes, nearly 8 million tonnes (1.7%) higher than the 2016 level, with most of this year’s growth pertaining to production up-turns in Far East Asia and Southern Africa.

“Strong production gains are estimated in Southern African on account of beneficial rains, except in Madagascar where prolonged dryness and cyclone damage have resulted in a sharp cut to the 2017 paddy output to a below average level,” the FAO said.

Of the 52 LIFDC countries across the world, 38 are in Africa, 11 in the Asian region and 2 each in the Oceania and the Caribbean sub-continents. The report said there would be a marked decline in cereal imports into Southern Africa due to the production rebound.

In Zimbabwe, cereal imports are forecast to decline by an average of 1 million tonnes annually for the next 3 years due to increased local agricultural productivity.


In East Africa, the FAO said unfavourable weather conditions had reduced farm output in Kenya and Somalia to below average while the civil war and insecurity in South Sudan continued to restrain farming.

“Aggregate production in West Africa in 2017 is nearly unchanged compared to the previous year, reflecting yearly production gains in coastal countries that offset declines in the Sahel countries, with the notable exception of Senegal that is forecast to register a record output.

In Central Africa, Cameroon is expected to register a moderate year-on-year production increase, while insecurity in the Central African Republic (CAR) has kept production at below average levels throughout 2017.

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