We rarely talk about Africa’s wheat production due to its size relative to other regions of the world. Africa produces only 3% of the world’s wheat, compared to the European Union region which produces 20% of the world’s wheat and Back Sea region which produces 17%. These low levels of wheat production in the continent are partly the result of unfavourable climatic conditions in most countries.

The 2019/20 wheat production conditions are hard to ignore, albeit the continent having lower production levels. Africa has experienced an increase in wheat production for two consecutive seasons, however, the wheat production could fall by 10% y/y in the 2019/20 season which would result in 26 million tonnes being produced.

The countries underpinning this expected decline in harvest are South Africa, Libya and Morocco. In all these countries the crop has been impacted by drier weather conditions during the crop growth stages which, in turn, weighed on yields potential.

Fortunately, other regions of the world had fairly good seasons and therefore boosted global wheat production. The International Grains Council forecasts the 2019/20 global wheat harvest at 761 million tonnes, up by 3% y/y. This has also kept global prices at softer levels. In the week of January 24, 2020, global wheat prices were down 3% y/y, trading around US$236 per tonne.

African consumers will subsequently be able to source wheat supplies from other parts of the world to fulfil the current shortfall, thereby increasing the amount of wheat the continent imports in the 2019/20 season by possibly 4% y/y to 51 million tonnes. The leading importers will be Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan.

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

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