• The 2017-18 rainfall season was characterized by a late start, an extended mid-season dry spell (December-January) and heavy rains from February into April. The dry spell caused moisture stress and wilting of the early planted crops in many areas in Botswana, south-western Madagascar, southern Malawi, southern and some central parts of Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Cereal production during the upcoming harvest season in Southern Africa is expected to be below average, despite the heavy late rains, which benefitted the late planted crops. This is due to a late start of the rainy season, minimal to no rains during the critical planting season (December -January), high temperatures and the prevalence of Fall Armyworm (FAW).
In Eastern Africa, staple commodity prices generally followed seasonal trends in Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia, but atypical price trends were observed in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Tanzania (FEWS NET Price Watch, March 2018). Prices are expected to follow seasonal trends through June 2018, remaining below last year and five year USD prices due to a combination of currency depreciation, better production than 2017, and regional imports.
- White maize grain was as usual, the most regionally traded commodity between October and December 2017 because of increasing supply from the previous June-to-July, and ongoing November-to-January harvests (see Figure 1). Recurrent conflict-related trade disruptions from southern to northern markets in South Sudan encouraged alternative imports from Sudan in the north.
Erratic rainfall, high temperatures and persistent Fall Armyworm infestation lower cereal crop production prospects for 2018 in southern Africa.
In the absence of consistent rains for the remainder of the season, dry conditions experienced in December to January will further diminish water supplies for domestic, agricultural and commercial use.
These conditions are likely to have far reaching consequences on access to adequate food and nutrition and ability of farmers to produce in the 2018/19 consumption year.