The beginning of 2016 saw heightened concerns around the erratic rainfall distribution, with all previous maize projections being revised downwards to “severe” and “disaster” scenarios. Many fear that Southern Africa may be on the brink of the worst drought in recorded history, surpassing the impact levels reached in 1992.
There are several differences between the 1992 situation and present, writes Tinashe Kapuya, head of international trade and investment intelligence at Agbiz. “Firstly, the regional dynamics are quite different in that there are more surplus producers in the region today than existed in the past, namely Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi in addition to South Africa.
“Secondly, the region is far more exposed to the impacts of global food markets, with efforts to integrate regional food markets making the region somewhat abler to move more grain from one place to the other compared to any period in the past. Thirdly, a steadily growing population has been matched by a declining proportion of people that are food insecure.”
According to Kapuya, given these structural changes in national, regional, and global food markets, the region faces what could be an entirely new challenge to what is fundamentally an old problem. – Agbiz