GIEWS Country Brief: The Kingdom of Eswatini 22-April-2020

News and Press Release
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  • Harvesting of 2020 cereal crops underway and production anticipated at average level

  • Maize import requirements in 2019/20 (May/April) estimated at high level, following low 2019 harvest

  • Prices of maize meal stable or decreased in early 2020, but remained high on yearly basis

  • Large number of people in need of food assistance in early 2020

Harvesting of 2020 cereals crops underway

Harvesting of the 2020 cereal crops, mostly maize, started in early April and is expected to conclude in June.
Low rainfall amounts early in the season are reported to have caused a contraction in the area planted to cereal crops, while a limited availability of tractor services during the planting period, used by many farmers to prepare fields, delayed plantings. Rains from November 2019 to March 2020 improved and were generally beneficial for cereal crops. However, below-average rainfall totals were estimated in northern Hhohho and southern Shiselweni regions, which are likely to curb crop productivity in these areas.

As of late March, remote sensing vegetation indices indicated mostly favourable crop conditions across the country, raising expectations that average to above-average maize yields could be attained, which would partly offset the effects of a reduced sown area. Overall, cereal production in 2020 is forecast, therefore, at a near-average level, but lower than the previous year