Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

The drier weather conditions that affected parts of South Africa have also had a negative impact in the maize-producing areas of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi during the past couple of months. These countries could therefore experience a double-digit decline in maize production in the 2018/2019 season compared to the previous one.

Zimbabwe’s 2018/2019 maize production could fall by 45% year-on-year to 1.2 million tons (the 2018/19 production season corresponds with 2019/20 marketing year). This is according to data from the International Grains Council (IGC). Given that Zimbabwe’s maize carry-over stock of roughly 458 000 tons from the 2018/19 marketing year might not be sufficient to boost its maize supplies in the 2019/20 marketing year, the country could remain a net importer of maize.

If we account for the fact that Zimbabwe’s maize consumption typically varies between 1.8 million and 2 million tons, then maize imports for the 2019/2020 marketing year will most likely amount to 400 000 tons. In this case, within the southern African region, the most likely suppliers of maize would be Zambia and South Africa (notwithstanding the expected poor harvest in South Africa due to dryness in the western regions of the country). Other possible suppliers could be Mexico, the US and Russia, amongst others.

Zambia’s 2018/2019 maize production could amount to 2.4 million tons, down by 31% year-on-year, according to IGC’s data. Nonetheless, this will not make Zambia a net importer of maize in the 2019/2020 marketing year. The country has carry-over stocks of about 785 000 tons, which will be an opening stock in the new marketing year. This means Zambia’s maize supplies could be about 3.1 million tons in the 2019/2020 marketing year, which is well above the annual maize consumption of roughly 2.5 million tons.

IGC forecasts Malawi’s 2018/2019 maize production at 3 million tons, down by 14% from the previous season due to prospects of unfavourable weather conditions. Moreover, the country’s maize stocks are tight, estimated at 50 000 tonnes at the end of the 2018/2019 marketing year. With that said, the country might not need notable imports to supplement its supplies in 2019/2020 marketing year as annual maize consumption is estimated at 3 million tons. –Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo, head of economic and agribusiness intelligence at Agbiz, shares highlights in his weekly update on agricultural commodity markets. Click here for the full report on agri markets for the major commodities.

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