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November 04, 2012

Southern Africa region's cereal deficit

by Irene !Hoaës

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region recorded a drop of about 7 percent in cereal production from 33.81 million tonnes in 2011 to 31.47 million tonnes in 2012.

However, according to a brief of the SADC agricultural desk issued in August, this is slightly up by 2 percent compared to the past five-year average (2007–2011) cereal production.

Most countries, at least ten of twelve countries with data, have recorded decreases in cereal production in 2012, ranging from 1 percent in South Africa to as high as 60 percent in Lesotho when compared to cereal production in 2011.

Only Namibia and Tanzania had increased harvests in 2012 compared to 2011.

The poor crop production performance in many member states in the 2011/12 agricultural season has seen the region experiencing a cereal deficit of about 5.55 million tonnes in the 2012/13 marketing year, compared to a cereal deficit of 0.21 million tonnes in the 2011/12 marketing year.

All SADC member states except Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia recorded overall cereal deficits. Zambia recorded a cereal surplus of 1.11 million tonnes followed by Malawi with 0.56 million tonnes and Tanzania with 0.19 million tonnes.

For the first time since the 2006/07 marketing year, the region has recorded a maize deficit, assessed at 0.64 million tonnes, as regional availability of 28.86 million tonnes fall short of regional requirement of 29.49 million tonnes.

The current deficit is significantly the opposite of a maize surplus of 3.41 million tonnes recorded during the 2011/12 marketing year.

All countries have recorded maize deficits in the 2012/13 marketing year except Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The region also continues to register regional deficits in the other main cereal crops of wheat, rice, sorghum and millet.

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