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This report provides a summary of changes to regional maize availability estimates and markets in countries monitored by FEWS NET and WFP in southern Africa. It updates FEWS NET’s Regional Maize Supply and Market Outlook Report published in August 2017 and follows FEWS NET rapid market assessments that took place across the region in November. It also draws insights on staple food trade from the FEWS NEWT/WFP Informal Cross Border Monitoring System. Similar reports have been produced simultaneously for the DRC and Madagascar to provide the reader with more insight into current and projected staple food supplies and market trends in these countries
Regional maize supplies remain high and sufficient to satisfy needs for the remainder of the 2017/18 marketing year. Estimated maize surpluses are significantly above average in South Africa. In Zimbabwe, a chronically grain deficit country, the 2017/18 marketing year deficit is substantially lower than average.
Recent updates to maize trade policies within the region have been oriented toward facilitating trade, rather than restricting it. Intra-regional trade flows within the region are relatively low due to ample and above-average supplies (carry-over stocks and harvests). Exports beyond the region are supported by favorable marketing conditions (exportable surpluses and competitive price levels). Maize prices in the region have been below average owing to these above-average supplies. Deteriorating macro-economic conditions and atypical market actor behavior in Zimbabwe have negatively affected household purchasing power.
Opening maize stocks for the 2018/19 marketing year are likely to be above average for the region largely due to significant stocks in South Africa. These stocks may offset regional maize deficits likely to result from below-average harvests spurned by persistent drought conditions in southern parts of the region including surplus producing South Africa and Zambia. Net maize supplies for the region in the 2018/19 marketing year may be slightly below or close to average, a scenario that may exert upward pressure on maize prices.
Substantial maize deficits are expected in typically grain deficit countries. Regional procurement by humanitarian organizations from Zambia, the main non-GMO maize market, may have limited or no surpluses. Stringent national regulations on GMOs in some of the grain deficit countries may continue to restrict humanitarian imports of maize grain from South Africa.