Batswana have been warned that they are likely to see prices of maize meal going over the roof as crop production has been negatively affected by severe weather in South Africa, one of the major sources of cereal.
Chairman of Maize and Wheat Millers Association of Botswana, Nkosi Mwaba said hot and dry weather conditions in South Africa have caused a significant impact on the availability of white maize crop.
“The Millers Association of Botswana cautions that the market is likely to see high maize meal prices in both countries for the next 12 months,” Mwaba warned.
“Furthermore, millers would like to caution the market on the likely increase in the price of maize chop (animal feed) to the beef sector.”
According to the association, the irrigated maize produce, which makes up almost 20 percent of the crop, has also being affected by power cuts, which may result in South Africa having to import maize.
These concerns have seen corn futures spiking on the Johannesburg Safex (South African Futures Exchange). Mwaba revealed that the Botswana milling industry is largely dependent on South African maize crop and imports up to 95 percent of its annual requirements. The local milling industry has the capacity to supply the domestic Botswana market with maize meal. Maize prices have increase by up to 40 percent since December 2014. In reaction to this, the market should expect an increase in the price of finished products from as early as March 2015.
The Botswana food price component of the Consumer Price Index has remained stable in 2014 and was only marginally higher than its year earlier level in November. Statistics Botswana said last week that the annual inflation rate in January 2015 was 3.6 percent, a decrease of 0.2 of a percentage point on the December 2014 rate of 3.8 percent. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said the large 2014 cereal harvest helped improve food security conditions in Botswana, with an estimated 1┬á500 people assessed to be food insecure, according to the results of the national 2014/15 vulnerability assessment committee report.
“This is a significant reduction compared to the 372┬á000 persons estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in 2013/14, following the drought reduced 2013 harvest,” it said on its website.