Sta­ple prices sta­ble but low yields point to hikes

African Times - - Business - SAVIOUS KWINIKA

PRICES of the sta­ple maize meal have re­mained sta­ble or de­creased in the coun­tries most prone to drought in South­ern Africa but prospects of a poor 2017/18 har­vest are rais­ing the spec­tre of in­creases.

Lesotho, Mozam­bique and Zim­babwe are among the most vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries.

Wide­spread rains in Fe­bru­ary and March have brought mixed for­tunes to the afore­men­tioned coun­tries with the con­di­tions con­tin­u­ing to im­prove crop and pas­ture con­di­tions and wa­ter avail­abil­ity in Lesotho.

In Mozam­bique and Zim­babwe, the rains have come rather too late as crops that sur­vived the ex­tended dry spells in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary show ev­i­dence of re­duced yield po­ten­tial in most ar­eas in the for­mer.

In Mozam­bique, de­spite this sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall, the out­look for the main sea­son pro­duc­tion re­mains un­changed since it was too late to re­cover wilted crops planted in late Jan­uary, ac­cord­ing to Famine Early Warn­ing Sys­tem Net­work (FEWS NET).

Per­sis­tent rains are also caus­ing leach­ing and wa­ter­log­ging among crops in some parts of Zim­babwe and lim­ited ac­cess to top-dress­ing fer­til­iz­ers is caus­ing nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency among oth­ers.

The heavy rains have also wors­ened road con­di­tions in most parts of the coun­try, af­fect­ing mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Above-av­er­age rain­fall through­out Fe­bru­ary in cen­tral Mozam­bique, caused lo­calised flood­ing that re­quired emer­gency in­ter­ven­tion by the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to FEWSNET, the late rains will pro­vide resid­ual mois­ture for off-sea­son plant­ing, if poor house­holds can ac­cess seeds in suit­able ar­eas.

Mean­while, in Zim­babwe and Lesotho, con­sump­tion of the green har­vest has started, which is im­prov­ing food di­ver­sity, con­sump­tion pat­terns and in­comes, es­pe­cially among poor house­holds.

Zim­babwe’s maize grain prices for Fe­bru­ary ($0,35/kg) re­mained sta­ble and were about 15 per­cent be­low the five-year av­er­age and the Fe­bru­ary 2017 prices.

Be­tween May and June house­holds are ex­pected to con­sume own-pro­duced stocks from the 2018 har­vests, which will marginally im­prove their food se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion.

Later, poor house­holds are ex­pected to ex­haust their own pro­duc­tion food stocks dur­ing this pe­riod and hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance will be re­quired to help house­holds to meet their min­i­mum food needs and pro­tect liveli­hoods.

In Lesotho, a de­lay in the on­set of the 2017/18 sea­sonal rains and long dry spells have ad­versely im­pacted the amount of green foods avail­able this sea­son.

Nonethe­less, the avail­abil­ity of green foods for con­sump­tion is ex­pected to bring re­lief to liveli­hood pro­tec­tion gaps that house­holds are fac­ing dur­ing the peak of the lean sea­son.

Food sup­plies in Lesotho mar­kets have re­mained sta­ble through­out the lean sea­son ow­ing to above-av­er­age 2017 pro­duc­tion and con­sis­tent sup­plies from South African mar­kets.

Sta­ple food prices are sta­ble and are ex­pected to con­tinue near five-year av­er­age lev­els dur­ing the out­look pe­riod, FEWS NET pro­jected.

For Mozam­bique, green food is not avail­able as usual to sup­ple­ment food needs due to early and mid-sea­son dry­ness.

As a re­sult, “stressed” out­comes are emerg­ing across much of the coun­try due to de­pleted house­hold stocks and be­lowa­v­er­age in­comes.

Maize grain prices in Fe­bru­ary re­mained rel­a­tively sta­ble in most mon­i­tored mar­kets, ex­cept in the western Tete Prov­ince, where there has been a 64 per­cent rise com­pared to Jan­uary.

This fol­lowed an in­crease of 38 per­cent the pre­vi­ous month, putting the prices close to the five-year av­er­age.

Maize meal and rice prices have gen­er­ally re­mained sta­ble, sta­ple food prices are ex­pected to peak in March and sea­son­ally de­cline in April with the har­vests.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.