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Regional Food Security Situation Tight as Grain Shortage Hits Parts of the SADC Region

Trade Briefs

Regional Food Security Situation Tight as Grain Shortage Hits Parts of the SADC Region

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As effects of climate change worsen, droughts have become more frequent and severe in southern Africa. Combined with this year’s strongest ever recorded El Niño phenomenon – the present situation is taking a heavy toll on rural livelihoods and economies rendering an estimated 30 million people food insecure in the SADC region alone. Some countries in the region have already declared drought emergency in an effort to scale up humanitarian response. This current El Niño event, one of the strongest in 35 years, will remain active until the first quarter of 2016, therefore influencing most of the agricultural season in the southern Africa region.

Using the FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System, this Trade Brief examines the grain demand and supply situation for each SADC member state. The grain situation in the region remains tight, with some governments are now imposing measures to deter private farmers from exporting maize. Some farming regions within SADC have been declared disaster areas. The El Niño‑associated dry weather is likely to severely hit many parts of the region, thereby reducing grain output for both human and livestock feed. Governments should therefore start working on the logistics of importing grain from North and South America in order to avert pending regional hunger.

The beginning of 2016 saw heightened concerns around the erratic rainfall distribution, with all previous maize projections being revised downwards to “severe” and “disaster” scenarios. Many fear that southern Africa may be on the brink of the worst drought in recorded history, surpassing the impact levels reached in 1992.

Given these structural changes in national, regional, and global food markets, the region faces what could be an entirely new challenge to what is fundamentally an old problem. Chief among these challenges is determining the level of production and import requirements. There is a need to start thinking of possible strategies that would ensure that food is available to the entire regional population at an affordable price.

Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.


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