South Africa

GIEWS Country Brief: South Africa (24 July 2020)

News and Press Release
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  • Cereal output in 2020 forecast at well above-average level, driven by significant rebound in maize production

  • Export quantities of maize forecast to rise in 2020/21, underpinned by large domestic supplies and weak currency

  • Prices of maize fall, following steep rises in preceding months due to effects of COVID-19 pandemic

  • Food insecurity and poverty levels expected to increase due to COVID-19 Upturn in cereal production in 2020 Harvesting of the 2020 main summer season cereal crops is almost complete, slightly later than normal following a delayed start of the season in the last quarter of 2019. Most of the summer cereal output is comprised of maize and the 2020 harvest is estimated at 16 million tonnes, the second largest on record. Underpinned by favourable weather conditions, an increase in maize yields helped drive up production, while an above-average sown area, prompted by high prices, further supported the production gain.

Planting of the 2020 winter wheat crop was completed in June and the harvest is expected to start in October. Production is forecast at an average level of 1.65 million tonnes in 2020.

Offsetting earlier expectations of a large decline in the planted area, improved rainfall in June in the high producing western regions and record high prices of wheat during the planting period, are expected to have spurred farmers to sow more than initial intentions, lessening the year-on-year decline in plantings.

With weather forecasts pointing to conducive conditions for the remainder of the season, an upturn in yields, following the below-average levels of 2019, is foreseen to be the main factor driving up production in 2020.
Overall, the 2020 cereal production is forecast at 18.3 million tonnes, about 30 percent higher than the five-year average and showing a significant recovery over the reduced output in 2019.