SA, Zambia replace global exporters against maize deficits

Southern African regional member states

by TINTSWALO BALOYI
Executive Editor
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) BREADBASKETS- South Africa and Zambia- are projected to tackle shortfalls in East and Southern Africa where a number of countries will need large imports of maize until April next year.

Kenya and Zimbabwe are set to be the major beneficiaries of the surpluses in the two above-mentioned Southern African countries.

According to the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), South Africa and Zambia will assume a role previously played by international producers of the staple commodity.

“However, their (Kenya and Zimbabwe’s saviours won’t be your typical major global producers such as Ukraine, the United States or Brazil,” said Agbiz economist, Wandile Sihlobo.

He added, “Rather it is most likely to be SA and Zambia waiting in the wings.”

Agbiz is an association of agribusinesses in Southern Africa.

Its sentiments come as Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Lands and Agriculture placed its 2019/2020 maize harvest at more than 907 600 tonnes.

While this is an increase of 17 percent from the previous season, the harvest would be below Zimbabwe’s 10-year average maize production of 1,1 million tonnes and lower than annual domestic consumption needs of between 1,9 million and 2 million tonnes.

Thus the Southern African country must import 1 million tonnes of maize.

Zimbabwe has suffered successive years of droughts.

The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report of September 2019 projected that more than 2,2 million people in cities and towns faced food insecurity.

United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) forecasts that by March next year, at least 3.3 million people – almost half (47 percent) the country’s urban population – will be food insecure.

According to the International Grains Council, Kenya’s 2019/2020 maize harvest of 3,4 million tonnes is below annual consumption at about 4,7 million tonnes.

Sihlobo reiterated unlike the other seasons, where African countries would look outside the continent for maize supplies in seasons of deficiency, South Africa and Zambia could emerge as key maize suppliers.

“Both countries are expecting their second-largest maize harvests on record for the 2019/2020 production season,” he said.

South Africa anticipates a harvest of 15,6 million tonnes. This is against domestic consumption of about 11 million tonnes.

Zambia projects a maize harvest of 3,4 million tonnes. Domestic maize consumption of 2,2 million tonnes.

This would mark the third year on record that Zambia would be able to export as much as 1 million tonnes of maize. Zambia appears on course thus to overcome climatic shocks, an energy deficit, and the highest debt in the region prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Trade Map also rates South Africa and Zambia among the leading suppliers of the commodity to Kenya and Zimbabwe in 2019.

– CAJ News

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