The FAO’s monthly report on food price trends was released last week. The bulletin reports on recent food price developments over the past month at the global, regional, and country levels, with a focus on developing countries and provides early warnings for high country-level food prices that may negatively affect food security.

According to this month’s report, improved production prospects and ample supplies supported continued decreases in international cereal prices in August. More specifically, the benchmark US wheat price averaged 188 dollars per tonne in August, remaining relatively unchanged from July. By contrast, the benchmark US maize prices averaged around 150 dollars per tonne in August, which is 7 percent lower than July. These decreases in maize prices were mainly due to global increased yield projections in the US, the world’s largest maize producer. The FAO all rice price index declined by 2 percent in August, reversing steady increases since May.

Several countries received domestic food price warnings this month. These warnings mean that the price of one or more basic food commodity are at abnormally high levels that could negatively impact access to food. The countries that received warnings include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Swaziland. In Argentina, yellow maize prices dropped significantly in August due to a record harvest; however, they remain three times above their year earlier level. In Bolivia, maize prices increased sharply for the third consecutive month due to a reduced main summer crop and lower plantings for the second season crop. In Brazil, maize prices increased slightly in August due to a downward revision in production to 68 million tons. In Chile, maize prices increased for the fourth consecutive month due to an estimated 25 percent reduction in production from last year’s level.

In Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, and Swaziland, maize prices remain high compared to their year earlier levels due to an El-Niño induced drought. In Nigeria, coarse grain prices increased to record levels in August; millet, sorghum, and maize prices are at more than double their value compared to their year earlier levels. These price increases are mainly due to a sharp depreciation in the local currency, as well as high fuel and input costs. In South Sudan, coarse grain prices declined after significant increases in July due to a resumption of imports from Uganda and harvesting of the first season crop.

At the sub-regional level, West Africa showed mixed trends in the prices of major crops. In Burkina Faso and Mali, millet and sorghum prices remained stable overall thanks to adequate supplies. By contrast, in Niger, coarse grain prices continued to increase significantly due to flooding and insecurity in parts of the country. Chad and Togo experienced declines in coarse grain prices due to adequate imports in the case of Chad and a good maize harvest in Togo. In Nigeria, the steep depreciation of the Naira continued to place upward pressure on both local and imported food prices.

Southern Africa also showed mixed trends in prices in August. In South Africa, maize prices continued to decrease due to lower international quotations. In Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, and Namibia, prices remained high due to the El-Niño-related drought. On the other hand, maize prices decreased in Zimbabwe due to increased imports from South Africa.

Regarding Eastern Africa, the price of maize in Uganda decreased due to the ongoing harvest. Similarly, in the Sudan, millet and sorghum prices decreased in anticipation of the forthcoming 2016 harvest. In Ethiopia and Tanzania, maize prices increased due to heavy rains in Ethiopia and seasonal patterns in Tanzania. In Kenya, prices showed mixed trends in August but remained below their year earlier levels due to adequate supplies carried over from the above-average 2015 harvest.

In Central America, maize prices stabilized in August after increasing over previous months, while bean prices generally decreased due to adequate supplies and favourable estimates for the upcoming harvest.

In East Asia, domestic rice prices decreased in the main exporting countries. In Vietnam, rice prices declined due to the ongoing 2016 harvest. In India, prices increased slightly due to a slight decrease in estimated rice production and large state procurement activities. In China and Cambodia, prices remained relatively stable in August. Among rice-importing countries, prices showed mix trends. In Indonesia and the Philippines, prices remained virtually unchanged, while in Sri Lanka they decreased due to a better-than-expected harvest. Prices also increased in Bangladesh due to low imports and high levels of government procurement.

In South America, maize and wheat prices remained high in August. In Argentina, prices dropped due a record harvest but remained high due to strong exports supported by a weak local currency. In Brazil, maize prices increased slightly due to decreased production associated with dry weather. Similarly, in Bolivia, maize prices increased for their third consecutive month due to decreased production, also associated with dry weather.

All the data used in the analysis can be found in the FPMA Tool.

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