Big Issues, Opinions & Editorial

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

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  • Cereal production in 2021 forecast at bumper high
  • Supply outlook boosted by favourable production expectations
  • Cereal imports below average in 2020/21 marketing year
  • Lower year on year maize prices • High prevalence of food insecurity, but improvements anticipated from April onwards

Cereal production in 2021 forecast at bumper high

Harvesting of the main 2021 season cereal crops will start in April and aggregate production is expected to surpass the above-average outturn of the previous year.

Since the start of the cropping season in October 2020, rainfall has been well distributed and cumulative amounts have been more than adequate to meet the water requirements of maize crops, the principal grain grown in the country. Reflecting the favourable rainfall conditions, remote sensing indexes depicted healthy vegetation conditions in most cropped areas at the beginning of March 2021, inferring a high likelihood of above-average yields at the national level. Excessive amounts of rainfall in some areas of Central and Northern regions may have stunted crop growth and had a negative effect on yields. Dry spells in some parts of Southern Region could also limit yield potential. However, these localized adverse weather events are not anticipated to have a significant impact on the aggregate national output.

The area planted to maize is estimated to have increased in 2021, further supporting the favourable production outlook. The upturn in maize sowings reflects the favourable weather conditions during the planting period and the roll-out of the Government’s Affordable Inputs Programme for the 2020/21 cropping season, which provided access to subsidized seeds and fertilizers for 3.8 million smallholder farmers.

Overall, maize production is foreseen to reach at least 4 million tonnes in 2021, compared to the 3.7 million tonnes harvested in 2020.

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