While it remains a challenge to get a clear picture of the scale of damage to maize fields in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe after Cyclone Idai, my back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest these countries will collectively have to import more than 1-million tonnes of maize in the 2019/2020 marketing year to meet their domestic needs.
In the case of Zimbabwe, 2019/2020 maize imports could reach at least 900,000 tonnes to meet annual consumption of about 2-million tonnes. Meanwhile, Mozambique will most likely double its typical maize import volume of about 100,000 tonnes a year to fulfil a domestic need of about 2.3-million tonnes. For Malawi, imports could amount to at least 200,000 tonnes. The key question is where these countries will source these additional supplies.
In the recent past SA, Zambia and Mexico have been the main suppliers of maize to Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. But in 2019 conditions could change somewhat as supply from SA and Zambia is expected to be tight due to forecasts of poor harvests. If we assume SA’s expected production of 10.6-million tonnes materialises, the country could have only about 1.1-million tonnes of maize available for export. A large share of this will most likely be destined for Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini, which won’t leave much for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.