A field of dying maize plants during a severe drought caused by El Niño.
- South Africa’s maize triangle is projected to have the highest crop yield since 1960.
- Below-average rainfall in most of the region could result in 20 million people facing starvation between January and March next year.
- Zimbabwe will rely on Russian grain gifts early next year.
While South Africa recorded its second-highest maize harvest
since 1960, in the “maize triangle” provinces of Free State,
Mpumalanga, and the North West, the country could find itself strained, just
like a majority of SADC countries that are projected to be food insecure next
year, stretching to 2025.
In September, South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC)
announced that farmers were expected to harvest 6% more maize in the 2022–2023
season compared with the previous season.
Tanzania is another country expected to have a bumper
Zambia was fortunate in that there is enough maize carryover
from the previous harvest to meet the expected 25.2% drop in maize production
due to a decrease in area planted from 1.69 million hectares last season to
1.51 million hectares this season.
However, the effects of El Niño, a negative climate and
economic cycle that can last between nine and 12 months, will be greatly felt
in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), and Zambia.
According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network
(FewsNet), “domestic deficits will continue to be met through sourcing
maize from regional markets,” meaning that South Africa and Tanzania would
be the regional sources for countries intending to import maize.
For countries such as Zimbabwe, grain gifts from Russia will
come in handy, as the latter announced that a consignment was already on the
way to Zimbabwe.
Poor microeconomic activity in Malawi and Zimbabwe is
projected to be a major driver, pushing many into starvation.
“Furthermore, this shock (El Niño) follows localised
below-average harvests in 2023 and poor macroeconomic conditions in Malawi and
The negative impacts of the El Niño during the 2023/24 rainy season, including low labour opportunities and high food prices, are expected to offset any recent improvements from declining inflation.
FewNet also said over 20 million people will be in need of
food assistance during the January-to-March 2024 peak of the lean season.
Although, in contrast to other regions of the continent,
southern Africa is not a hotspot for climate insecurity, climate change is
causing livelihood and food insecurity, displacement and migration, and
increasing competition for land and water resources.
With that in mind, FewNet observed that many families would
struggle to cope and would be driven towards “negative coping strategies
in order to minimise food consumption gaps amid high staple food prices and
limited purchasing power.”
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Source link : https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/south-africa-and-the-region-face-grain-strain-despite-record-harvests-20231128
Publish date : 2023-11-28 20:34:42