Tighter maize supplies and strong export demand has sustained upward pressure on maize prices this year: FAO

WINDHOEK: Tighter maize supplies and strong export demand has sustained upward pressure on maize prices this year, pushing them to record levels in several markets.

In its latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report for March 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) indicated that in southern Africa, tighter maize supplies and high food prices have affected access to food, mainly for vulnerable groups.

It said following several years of surplus production, lower domestic maize harvests in 2013 resulted in tighter supplies, and caused an 11 per cent increase in the sub-region’s aggregate import requirement for the 2013/14 marketing year (generally May/April), estimated at about 1.37 million tonnes.

South Africa is supplying nearly all maize requirements in the sub-region, mainly to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, following the reduced exportable surplus in Zambia, which is the sub-region’s second-largest supplier.

Maize-planting estimates in South Africa – which accounts for more than half of the sub-region’s output – show a moderate contraction in the 2013/14 cropping season, but remain above the previous five-year average, while a small increase for the minor sorghum crop is estimated.

The FAO is, however, optimistic about southern Africa that has overall satisfactory 2014 crop conditions, but raised concerns that early dry spells are worrisome in some parts.

SOURCE: NAMPA