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Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)

Southern Africa Food Security Brief

Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)

January 2006

SARPN acknowledges the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) as the source of this document:
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  • Executive Summary

  • Food Security Situation

  • Regional price movements and trade flows

  • Season progress and production outlook

Executive summary

Rainfall has been falling consistently across much of the SADC region since the start of the 2005/06 season. Many areas, particularly in the central parts of the region, have received above-normal rainfall and continue to receive high amounts of rainfall. Given the good rains, many countries are generally expecting above average cereal production, provided the rains do not end prematurely and there are no long dry spells. Agricultural activities continue throughout the region, and crops are already reported to be maturing in some parts of the region, while elsewhere they are at vegetative to tasseling stages. Over much of the region where good January rains were received, crops (mainly maize) are reported to be in fair to good condition, while isolated areas in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have experienced crop losses as a result of pest and disease infestation, excessive rains leading to the leaching of soils, and flood damage. There are reports that in some areas (as in Zimbabwe), the poor availability of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and improved seeds has negatively affected area planted and is likely to lead to reduced yields. The overall regional cereal production outlook remains positive, but the final level of cereal production will depend on continued rainfall during the critical month of February. In contrast to the good rains in the southern part of the region, Tanzania continues to face adverse growing conditions; vuli rains have failed in the bimodal areas, and msimu rains have been delayed in most parts of the unimodal areas.

As the peak of the hunger season passes, the supply of the main staple crops remains tight, but the availability of early season crops and food aid is beginning to ease the situation in some of the worst affected areas. Domestic prices in South Africa (the main regional maize exporter) have begun to dip slightly, remaining competitive with international prices. Staple food prices, however, remain high where food shortages have been more acute, and continue to rise in both deficit and surplus areas. Intra-regional trade (formal and informal) continues to play an important role in filling import requirements in food deficit countries. Between April and the end of January, South Africa had exported an estimated 1.34 million MT of white maize, 73,800 MT yellow maize and 219,000 MT of wheat into SADC countries. In the same period, informal maize trade levels of in countries for which data are available now totals 119,880 MT.

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