FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
• Planted area of 2021 sorghum crop estimated at above-average level
• Imports of cereals in 2021/22 forecast at high levels
• Prices of yellow maize and rice declined seasonally in March-May period
• Concerns on food security situation amid third COVIC-19 pandemic wave
Planted area of 2021 sorghum crop estimated at above-average level
Planting of the 2021 sorghum, main season wheat and minor season maize crops has recently completed. The planted area to sorghum is estimated at an above-average level, as farmers have gradually shifted from maize to sorghum, which is more resistant to drier conditions compared to maize. By contrast, below-average maize sowings are estimated due to low profit margins, exacerbated by dry conditions in the main maize producing department of Santa Cruz in May. Plantings of wheat are estimated at above-average levels, supported by favourable prospects for profits and the distribution of agricultural inputs and seeds by government programmes. Weather forecasts indicate a high likelihood of below-average precipitation amounts during the July-September period in the key cereal producing eastern region, with potential negative consequences on crop yields.
Harvesting of the 2021 rice and main season maize crops was completed in May. Crop yields are reported to be generally good as abundant rain amounts in December and January replenished soil moisture and favoured crops at germination and flowering stages. This is despite the localized crop losses, caused by torrential rains in late February in the main producing Beni and Santa Cruz departments. As a result, the 2021 paddy output is estimated at an above-average level of 540 000 tonnes. Despite good yields, a below-average production of the main season maize crop is estimated, resting on the contraction of the area sown.
Imports of cereals in 2021/22 forecast at high levels
Cereal import requirements in the 2021/22 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at an above-average level of 670 000 tonnes. Imports of wheat, which account for about 90 percent of the total annual imports, are anticipated to be about 15 percent above the five-year average. The high level of import needs reflects the strong demand for food consumption as well as the suspension of tariffs on wheat imports for a period of two years starting from April 2020 which made imported grains more competitive on the domestic markets.
Prices of yellow maize and rice declined seasonally in March-May period
Wholesale prices of yellow maize and rice declined between March and May due to increased market supplies from the commercialization of the 2021 harvests. Prices of wheat flour, mostly imported, also generally weakened in the March-May period, reflecting adequate imports.
Concerns on food security situation amid third COVID-19 pandemic wave
After a contraction by 8 percent in 2020 associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to grow by 5.5 percent in 2021. Amid a third wave of the pandemic since May 2021 that brought a reintroduction of containment measures, concerns remain on the food security situation of the most vulnerable households due to their high dependency of informal wages.
In order to support households’ access to food, the government delivered a one-off grant of BOB 1 000 (approximately USD 145) to about 4 million people between December 2020 and May 2021.