The tail-end of 2018 was inundated with various news cycles, both domestic and international, which eventually over-shadowed a major policy pronouncement – The United States (US) Africa strategy. After two years without much clarity on the Trump Administration’s stance on Africa, it seemed ironic that the Africa Strategy almost went unnoticed, given that it was announced well into the festive season, with many institutions either wrapping up or closed for the holidays. Given the significance of the US’ Africa strategy, it is necessary to unpack it and discuss its implications for the continent.
The past two week’s rainfall has resulted in an improvement of soil moisture in most parts of the country, albeit the western areas are still relatively dry. To demonstrate this improvement — Figure 1 below shows the subsoil moisture across the country in the week of January 8, 2019, while, Figure 2 illustrates subsoil moisture in the week of December 28, 2018.
This morning South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries informed us that there are positive laboratory results for Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in the Vhembe District of Limpopo – a bordering Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The International Grains Council (IGC) forecasts Malawi’s 2018/19 maize production at 3.0 million tonnes, down by 14% from the previous season due to prospects of unfavourable weather conditions. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) paints a slightly gloomier picture, putting Malawi’s 2018/19 maize harvest at 2.8 million tonnes.
The current partial US government shutdown has affected the functions of the country’s Department of Agriculture, and thus leading to a delay in the release of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report which was originally scheduled for January 11, 2019.
Zambia’s maize crop is expected take a knock in the 2018/19 production season, to roughly 2.4 million tonnes, which is 33% lower than the previous season, according to data from the International Grains Council.
The International Grains Council forecasts a notable decline of 45% year-on-year in Zimbabwe’s maize production in 2018/19 marketing year to 1.2 million tonnes. Now, in such an event, where will Zimbabwe get maize supplies to fill the domestic demand of 2.0 million tonnes?