Here is Sihlobo…
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He refers a recent report from the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (Geoglam) indicating a high probability of below-normal rainfall in Southern Africa. This is between December 2019 and February 2020. Sihlobo says there is, therefore, the potential for a poor output in agriculture across the region, and forward planning is key to mitigate the effects of food insecurity. There is first a need to improve the timeliness and quality of agricultural conditions data across the Southern African region, especially for the staple crop which is maize. This, unfortunately, remains a challenge for most African countries with the exception of Zambia and South Africa, that frequently release data on agricultural conditions and the expected crop harvest. He says the maize planting season began across the region in mid-October, and in some countries in November 2019, but the process is up to now disappointing, because of dryness in various countries, from Namibia to Mozambique, and southwards from Zambia through South Africa.
He also refers to South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee which last week lowered its estimates for the country’s 2019/20 wheat and barley production by 5% and 2% from October 2019 to 1.6 million tonnes and 358 760 tonnes, respectively. In the case of wheat, this equates to a 16% decline from the 2018/19 season and 15% year-on-year decline in the barley harvest.
That was Wandile Sihlobo, Chief Economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, Agbiz.