Latest GIEWS Country Briefs

The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) has released several new country briefs and updates for Africa south of the Sahara.

In Tanzania, harvest of second-season crops has begun in the northern, northeastern, and coastal bi-modal areas. These crops contribute 15-20 percent of Tanzania’s total annual cereal production. In some northeastern regions, however, rainfall from October through December was as much as 70 percent below average; FAO reports that this is expected to reduce maize output and result in the fourth consecutive season of below-average cereal production. Fall armyworm infestation also continues to threaten Tanzania’s cereal production. However, the Tanzania Meteorological Agency expects the rainy season in the central and southern parts of the country, from January through May, to be average or above average. Maize prices reached record highs in April 2017 in Tanzania, but have since declined by 50-60 percent, FAO reports. In January 2018, maize prices were 35-50 percent below their January 2017 levels.  FAO reports the country to be mostly food-secure, with small pockets of moderate food insecurity remaining in some northeastern regions.

In Zimbabwe, below-average rainfall between October and January could threaten harvest prospects, although heavy rains in late January and early February have alleviated some of the water stress, especially for later-planted crops. Fall armyworm infestation has spread to all provinces in the country, further threatening maize production. To address these production challenges, the Government of Zimbabwe has contracted large-scale farmers to increase maize, wheat, and soybean production and has provided 1.8 million poor households with subsidized agricultural inputs. Overall, FAO reports that maize production in 2018 is expected to fall from 2017’s bumper crop (2.2 million tonnes) should still remain above the previous five-year average.  Total cereal imports for 2017-2018 are expected to decrease, due largely to the above-average maize production. Maize prices also remained generally stable throughout 2017; they have risen seasonally since the beginning of 2018 but remain low. Food security in Zimbabwe also significantly decreased in 2017. The lean season in Zimbabwe peaks between January and March; so far during this period, about 1.05 million people are in need of food assistance, compared to 4.07 million people at this time in 2017. While lower 2018 cereal production may increase food insecurity in some areas, large carryover stocks from the previous year’s bumper harvest should mitigate that impact.

Sudan continues to face localized food security challenges. The 2017 coarse grain harvest, which just concluded, was negatively impacted by dry spells in some regions. Cereal outputs were also impacted by a decline in area planted to coarse grains and other staples, as some farmers switched their land to more profitable cash crops. Overall, 2017 aggregate cereal production in Sudan is estimated at 5.2 million tonnes; this is about 40 percent lower than the record output seen in 2016 but still 11 percent above the five-year average. In the states impacted by drought, however, 2017 cereal production was 65-90 percent lower than 2016. The prices of domestic sorghum, millet, and wheat surged in most markets between October and January, driven largely by the Government’s removal of wheat subsidies in the 2018 budget. This drove higher demand for millet and sorghum to replace wheat in people’s diets. Prices also rose due to a strong depreciation of the local currency, which increased the general inflation rate in the country. An estimated 4.8 million people remain severely food-insecure in Sudan, particularly in the Darfur Region. 

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:Flickr: Kate Holt/Africa Practice