THE Food and Agriculture Organisation has released its biannual report on global food markets, providing a mixed picture for Africa.
Large supplies and a strong US dollar are keeping food prices low—the world’s food import bill is forecast to reach a five-year low in 2015.
But a number of African countries have recently struggled with drought and floods, turning them into net food importers—and in turn placing them at the mercy of international markets.
Southern Africa has been one of the worst hit sub-regions; Zimbabwe has just written off half of its maize output, while South Africa, Zambia and Malawi will all see dips, coming off the back of a bumper 2014.
Africa also remains the world’s most food-insecure continent—it spends more than $50 billion a year buying food from rich countries, with one reason for this being reduced yields at home.
And with Africa’s inhabitants set to double to 2.4 billion in 2050, it could get very heated if policies for one reason or the other do not work, as seen in global food spikes of recent years.
The FAO data contains interesting production and consumption trends—some of which would not be automatic first guesses: Ethiopia for example produces more cereals than South Africa, while Nigeria is Africa’s star in oil crop production.
We picked out some others:. .