The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the start of regional harvests in Southern Africa. Moving into the 2020/21 marketing year, opening stocks were 20 percent below average. Below average opening stocks were offset by the region’s above-average 2020 maize harvest despite dryness experienced in many areas earlier in the year.
Southern Africa, which is typically self-sufficient in maize, is expected to register well above average net maize supply —over four million MT. This supply will be above the previous 2019/20 marketing year and similar to 2018/19. Structurally deficit countries are expected to maintain typical import dependence, while the import gap in Zimbabwe will be well above average. South Africa, the region’s largest maize exporter will have an above-average surplus while Zambia will maintain its surplus at below-average levels. Malawi will also have an above-average surplus.
In terms of intra-regional trade, South Africa’s maize export volumes to Zimbabwe are expected to remain above average while Zambia’s exports are expected to remain below average. Given anticipated imports by Kenya from international markets, export demand from Tanzania destined for East Africa are expected to be limited. Some international trade (via South Africa) is also expected.
After reaching elevated levels in late 2019 and early 2020, regional maize prices declined rapidly between March and May 2020. Nonetheless prices are expected to be well above average in Zimbabwe, DRC, Madagascar, and Malawi for the remainder of the 2020/21 marketing year and near average for the rest of the countries
Although food availability within the region is expected to be adequate and only localized price anomalies are expected, food access among market-dependent households is expected to remain constrained due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. Export restrictions designed to secure domestic food availability in addition to existing COVID-19 related movement restrictions and intensified border screenings may compound food access constraints in deficit countries.