The Season So Far
Although rainfall performance improved in January, many areas were still seeing below average conditions when another prolonged dry spell hit in February. Parts of central and southern Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and parts of Zambia and Malawi were affected by extreme dryness from early February to mid-March. Some of these areas experienced their driest February in the past 40 years and serious impacts on rainfed maize production can be expected.
As of mid-March, the region has been affected by a total of 3 cyclones and 2 storms thus far, all making landfall in the same areas (i.e. certain districts of eastern Madagascar and central/northern Mozambique). Between mid-February and mid-March, Tropical Storm DUMAKO, Tropical Cyclone EMNATI and Tropical Cyclone GOMBE brought much needed rainfall to dry areas in Madagascar and northern Mozambique, but also caused extensive flooding and damage.
Given that some forecasts for the remainder of the season project normal to below normal rainfall across much of the region, the outlook is not promising. Below average cereal production is anticipated in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, with severe impacts on production in certain provinces. Parts of Malawi and Zambia are also likely to register below average production.
Regional maize supply in the upcoming 2022/23 marketing year is expected to be average, as opening stocks are likely to be above average and production is anticipated to be average at best. Although the region may have adequate maize availability to meet its demand, access among import dependent countries will be constrained by high prices at source markets. This is particularly concerning given that the region has already been seeing elevated prices in major markets such as South Africa and Zambia, and the situation has been exacerbated by global commodity prices skyrocketing following the Ukraine conflict. Although the region does not rely heavily on international maize imports, South Africa’s maize prices will likely remain elevated in line with international prices.