It is year-end and therefore an appropriate time to reflect on the African continent’s agricultural performance, particularly grains and oilseeds which are staple foods, and key inputs in the animal feed sector. The 2018/2019 production season has been confronted by unfavourable weather conditions in the sub-Saharan region which has negatively affected the planting activity and growing conditions of crops and, by extension, the continent expected harvest.

The International Grains Council (IGC) forecasts Africa’s 2018/2019 grains production at 154 million tons, down by a percentage point from the previous season. In this context, grains include maize, barley, wheat, sorghum and oats, while oilseeds refer to soya beans. The continent’s 2018/2019 soya bean production is estimated at 2.7 million tons, unchanged from the previous season. Although the import status differs across countries, the African continent will remain a net-importer of major grains and oilseeds such as wheat, maize, soya beans and rice in 2018/2019.

Africa’s 2018/2019 wheat imports are estimated at 49 million tons, down by 6% from the previous season owing to anticipation for a slight uptick in production in countries such as Algeria, Morocco and South Africa, albeit the continent’s overall grain production expected to decline. Although volumes differ from the previous season, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan will remain Africa’s leading wheat importers in the 2018/2019 season, collectively accounting for 74% of the continent’s wheat imports, according to data from the IGC. Africa is an important player in the global wheat market as it accounts for nearly a third of imports in 2018/2019.

The African continent’s 2018/2019 maize imports are estimated at 22 million tons, which is slightly above the previous season’s harvest. The North African countries, namely, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia are the key importers, accounting for 82% of the expected imports. Within the sub-Saharan region, the leading maize importers in 2018/2019 are Kenya and Zimbabwe.

In terms of soybeans, Africa’s soya bean imports could amount to 4.6 million tons in the 2018/2019 season, up by 12% year-on-year (y/y). About 78% could be imported by Egypt and the rest spread across the continent. In addition, Africa’s 2018/2019 rice imports could amount to 19 million tons, up by 12% from the previous season. Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana and Mozambique will remain the key importers.  –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.