Above-average rainfall harbours risks

25 November 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

With above normal rainfall predicted for the most of Namibia during the rainy season, cognisance should be taken of the fact that this can also hold risks such as exacerbation of pest outbreaks in the country.

Seasonal rainfall forecasts indicate enhanced chances of normal to above normal seasonal rainfall totals for southern Africa, raising the possibility of a second consecutive favourable agricultural season.

According to the Food Security Early Warning System Report, the 2021/2022 season is off to a slow start in a number of areas, including drought-affected areas.

“Short-term forecasts suggest a continuation of dry conditions through the end of November.”

Namibia’s rainfall season stretches from October to March during which it has been predicted that the bulk of the country can expect normal to above normal rainfall. However, there are areas such as the north-west which will receive below normal rain from November to March.

However, the report warns that a number of risks are also noted in light of the seasonal rainfall forecast.

One of these is the risk of flooding due to excessive rainfall.

Waterlogging

“This is more likely to occur in flood-prone areas, particularly low-lying areas, as well as those that already have high water levels from last season.”

It said waterlogging may also occur should heavy rainfall occur in areas with poor drainage, including flat slopes and heavy soils.

Furthermore, wet humid conditions also increase the chance of occurrence of many crop pests and crop and livestock diseases.

“The forecast for normal to above-normal rainfall raises the risk of exacerbation of African Migratory Locust outbreaks if the pest is not quickly brought under control.”

According to the report, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe reported outbreaks of African Migratory Locust during the 2020/2021 season, with some areas reporting extensive damage to crops and grazing lands.

“Significant monitoring and control efforts were undertaken to manage the locusts. Appropriate scouting and monitoring activities will be required this season in order to keep the locusts under control.”

It added that Namibia is currently battling with control of brown locusts that are believed to have been activated by the early rains that created a conducive environment for hatching. The swarms were observed in the second week of November.

There is also a likelihood that African Migratory Locust nymphs are starting to hatch in other member states, hence there is a need to strengthen surveillance and monitoring as a preparedness measure to effect control interventions timely, it noted.

Rainfall predictions

During the period from October to December, most parts of Namibia are likely to receive normal to above normal rainfall, with the exception of the southwestern parts where below normal rainfall is predicted.

Meanwhile for the November to January period, the greatest part of the country is projected to receive normal to above normal rainfall, while the north-western parts are likely to receive normal to above normal rainfall.

The outlook for January to March also indicates that normal to above normal rainfall is likely over most parts of the country, while normal to below-normal rainfall is likely over the northwest.

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