The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) monitors trends in staple food prices in countries vulnerable to food insecurity. For each FEWS NET country and region, the Price Bulletin provides a set of charts showing monthly prices in the current marketing year in selected urban centers and allowing users to compare current trends with both five-year average prices, indicative of seasonal trends, and prices in the previous year. To learn more about markets in Southern Africa, consult the FEWS NET Regional Maize Market Fundamentals Summary Report.
Maize is the single most important cereal crop in Southern Africa, accounting for almost 70% of total cereal production in the region. Most households in Southern Africa depend on maize (grain and meal/flour) for their main source of food and energy, with tubers (cassava), rice, wheat, sorghum, and millet serving as the main substitutes. Madagascar is the exception, where rice (imported and local) is the main staple food consumed across the country, with cassava and maize serving as key substitutes. Cassava is not traded in significant quantities across Southern Africa, while beans are an import protein source with annual consumption ranging between 2 - 8 kg on a per capita basis. Both white and yellow maize are produced in the region, but South Africa is the only country where yellow maize is grown in significant quantities and it is primarily livestock used as livestock feed. South Africa is also the region’s major producer of maize and is a major exporter to international markets. In years of relative maize surplus, sizable amounts of both formal and informal cross border trade occurs between neighboring countries. Maize trade flows in the region largely reflect trade in white maize. For most of Southern Africa, wheat grain is imported, milled, and consumed primarily in the form of bread. While South Africa produces substantial amounts of wheat, it is in quantities that are insufficient to meet domestic requirements.