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World Food Programme (WFP) Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET)

Informal cross border food trade in Southern Africa

World Food Programme (WFP), Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)

Issue 24, September 2006

SARPN acknowledges FEWS NET as a source of this document:
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Overall summary of trade flows

Consistent with expected seasonal trends, overall informal trade in maize, rice and beans, as recorded by the Informal Cross-border Food Trade Monitoring system in Southern Africa, declined by 36%, to nearly 8,000 MT in August. By commodity for the same time period, observed trade in maize dropped by 36%, from 11,300 MT to nearly 7,200 MT. Trade in beans also declined by 52% (from 850 MT to 420 MT). However, trade in rice increased by 29%, from 306 MT to 395 MT in September. Compared with last year at the same time, overall trade in maize, rice and beans declined (39%) from 13,000 MT in September last year to 8,000 MT this year. Maize continues to be the most traded (in volume terms) amongst the three commodities.

Figure 1: Recorded Informal Cross Border Maize Trade in DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa Tanzania, Zambia & Zimbabwe Figure 2: Recorded Informal Cross Border Food Trade in Rice & Beans DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa Tanzania, Zambia & Zimbabwe

For maize and beans, the decline in overall volumes traded could be due to dwindling on-farm stocks. As the marketing season advances towards the lean period which begins around November in most of the monitored countries, it is normal that producers would have run out of their sellable surpluses. On the other hand, the trading pattern is less predictable in the case of rice, as some of the rice is imported from east Asia. In the next few months, due to lean season demand with its concomitant rising prices, it is likely that volumes traded could temporarily resurge as those producers who were able to store commodities in anticipation of higher price differentials at this period release some of their stocks onto the market.

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