Africa: Large Global Grain Supplies Will Help Cushion Southern and East Africa

opinion

Global wheat production, which fell notably in 2018/19 season, recovered by 4% year-on-year to 764-million tonnes in 2019/20 season - the largest harvest yet. There is a notable improvement in production in all the major wheat-producing countries.

Although the past few months have been a struggle to secure grain supplies for southern and East Africa, other parts of the world are in better shape and could help offset the shortfall. No indicator spells this out as clearly as the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations' (FAO) Global Grains Price Index which averaged 158 points in September 2019, down by 4% year-on-year because of large global supplies.

The International Grains Council (IGC) forecasts 2019/20 global grains production at 2.2-billion tonnes, which is 1% higher than the previous season. This is boosted by increased wheat and rice production, which have overshadowed the decline in the maize and soybean harvest.

At the start of the 2019/20 production season, an increase in grain production seemed like a pipe dream because of excessively wet weather conditions and delayed plantings in the US. In addition, when planting finally happened, there were fears of potentially poor yields. While these tough production conditions are what has...

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