I hardly write about Africa’s sunflower seed industry because there is not much to say about it. The industry is not yet well developed. South Africa, Morocco and Egypt are the only African countries amongst the world’s top 29 sunflower seed producers, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The world’s leading sunflower seed producers are Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, China, Romania and Hungary, collectively accounting for 72 percent share of global harvest of 48.3 million tonnes in the 2017/18 season.

In the continent, South Africa is on the lead with production averaging 780 000 tonnes in the past five seasons. This equates to roughly 2 percent share of global sunflower seed production.

Morocco and Egypt are small players and this is evident on 2017/18 production estimates, with Egypt’s sunflower seed crop at 19 000 tonnes, unchanged from the previous season. Morocco’s 2017/18 sunflower seed production could reach 27 000 tonnes, also unchanged from the previous season.

To service the growing sunflower oil demand, the continent imports large volumes of sunflower oil. In 2017, the continent’s sunflower oil imports amounted to 717 384, which is roughly in line with the volume imported in the previous years. The leading importers were Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mozambique, Mauritius and Senegal accounting a collective share of 96 percent of the total imported sunflower oil.

The key suppliers of sunflower oil to the continent are typically Bulgaria, Argentina, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Netherlands and Portugal.

I should mention that a couple of organisation are working on the development of oilseed value chains in East Africa, which is expected to stimulate the production of different vegetable oils. I hope that in the coming years there will more interesting things to discuss, than developments in just three countries – South Africa, Morocco and Egypt.

Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: wandile@agbiz.co.za 

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