Harare – Several countries in the Southern African region are poised for bumper cereal harvests from the 2020-21 summer cropping season following normal to above normal rainfall.
Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe have all projected above-average cereal yields. However, Angola, Madagascar and Namibia expect below-average harvests due to significant rainfall deficits and high temperatures during the 2020-21 cropping season.
Higher yields mean lower food prices, and lead to foreign currency savings as countries spend less on imports of their staple crops.
A forecast of South Africa’s yields pegs the harvest at 18.7 million tonnes compared to 17.6 million tonnes in 2019-20, a one percent rise on the previous year.
The South Africa Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) says, “If we zoom into significant crops, the 2020/21 maize, soybean and sunflower seed harvests are forecast at 15,9 million tonnes (up four percent year on year, and second-largest harvest on record), 1,9 million tonnes (up 39 percent y/y, a record harvest), and 712,940 tonnes (down 12 percent y/y).”
The CEC also says Malawi and Mozambique expect higher-than-average crop production.
“Malawi’s maize harvest is estimated at 3,8 million tonnes (up 25 percent year on year), while Mozambique’s maize crop is estimated at 2,1 million tonnes (up eight percent year-on-year),” reads the CEC report.
Zambia also anticipates a bumper harvest which will be a 69 percent increase on the previous season’s yields.
Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo this week said farmers produced 3.62 million tons maize in the 2020-21 season. The soya bean harvest was a record 411,115 tonnes.
With grain from last season, the country has 20-months maize cover. Zambia’s annual maize requirements are about two million tonnes for human and livestock consumption.
In Zimbabwe, the yield is lower than South Africa’s but percentage wise, it is a much greater increase in the cereal harvest.
The country’s Second Crop and Livestock Assessment says maize production for 2020-21 will be around 2.7 million tonnes from 900,000 tonnes the prior year. The harvest of small grains will be 128 percent higher in 2020-21 than in 2019-20 (347,968 tonnes up from 152,515 tonnes).
Zimbabwe’s total cereal production projection stands at 3,075,538 tonnes against annual national requirements of 1,797,435 tonnes for human consumption and 450,000 tonnes for livestock.
“Government is pleased to report that Zimbabwe is set for a bumper harvest following the above-normal rains across the country during the 2020/2021 summer season,” said the Information Ministry.