SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA – Maize consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to reach a new historic high of 84.8 million tons in the 2022/23 market year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

However, the USDA estimates a 4% decline in production of the crop year-on-year to 83.7 million tonnes due to low production, which it attributes to the impacts of drought in some production areas primarily the East Africa

Expounding on the decline, the federal reveals that this would be the largest underperformance among the major grains where wheat supply is forecast to rise by 3.2% while rice volume is expected to contract by only 1%.

Maize is one of the most important food crops worldwide. It is also the most important staple food in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and is critical to contribute to food security for the approximately 1.2 billion population in SSA.

The cereal crop is primarily used for human consumption where it contributes nearly 20% of daily calorie needs, especially in East Africa and Southern Africa.

To meet demand, maize is grown on over 40 million hectares and it is the primary cereal grown in over half of the countries in SSA according to FAO.

Despite this decline, USDA states that maize should still be the subject of significant cross-border trade in SSA within the regional economic zones, which allows countries in a deficit situation to import from neighboring producers. 

This situation will generate many economic opportunities to reduce purchases outside Africa and promotes better distribution of national or regional surpluses.

According to the USDA, corn imports are expected to be around 2.9 million tonnes in 2022/2023, the lowest level of purchases in the cereals sector, far behind wheat (26 million tonnes) and rice (16.9 million tons). 

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