Cereal export prices firmed in January. A drop in plantings and concerns over the impact of unfavourable weather on the 2017 winter crops in the United States of America supported wheat values, while maize prices were mostly underpinned by strong demand. International prices of rice increased, primarily reflecting stronger demand and tighter availabilities of the Basmati variety.
In East Africa, cereal prices continued to surge in January to near-record or record levels, as the output of the ongoing harvests was sharply reduced by a poor October-December rainy season. Pastoralists are reducing herd size due to lower water and pasture availability to mitigate potential losses and increase their ability to sustain the remaining animals. As a result of higher supplies of low quality animals in the market, livestock prices declined sharply.
In Southern Africa, the favourable production outlook for the 2017 crop, particularly in South Africa, the main exporter and producer of the subregion, resulted in some price declines in January. Prices, however, remain generally at relatively high levels supported by the drought-reduced outputs in 2016.
In West Africa, coarse grain prices generally declined in January and were around or below their levels a year earlier reflecting increased market supplies from the recent good 2016 harvests. However, in Nigeria, despite an above‑average output, the continuing steep depreciation of the local currency and civil insecurity kept prices well above their year-earlier levels.