Warning of dire food shortages

24 April 2019 | Disasters

The latest Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation Report has predicted massive reductions for all crop-producing areas in the expected harvest season, including cereal production, driven largely by the poor rainfall in the last year.

The report states that combined cereals such as maize, pearl millet and sorghum production show that Namibia can expect a reduction in harvest of at least 53% of last season's harvest and over 42% below the average production.

The report also pointed out that while household food security remained satisfactory in most regions of the country following good improvements in agricultural production recorded in the last two seasons, the situation is expected to weaken from next month onwards amidst poor crop production while pockets of food insecurity are also still being reported in various areas especially those that suffered poor agricultural production due to prolonged dry spells or floods during the last rainfall season, coupled with the current ongoing drought conditions in the country. Due to the prevailing drought conditions all major communal crop producing regions and commercial grain-fed cereal crop producers are expecting a massive reduction in the expected harvest.

The report further states that grazing conditions continue to deteriorate in most parts of the country in the midst of very poor to below average rainfall conditions experienced countrywide and that the central, southern, north-central and the north-western regions of the country are the most affected. Livestock mortalities as a result of malnutrition were also reported.

In most areas, grazing is reported to vary between fair to poor in the Zambezi, Kavango West and Kavango East regions.





According to the report maize production forecast in the communal areas in the Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West regions indicated a considerable reduction of 79% of last season's harvest, and 78% below the average production.

“This reduction is largely attributed to the general poor rainfall performance, which is said to have dominated the 2018/19 rainfall season and to some extent, fall armyworms reported in the regions. Maize production in the commercial area has also showed a slight reduction in the expected harvest of about 15% of last season's harvest, but is still 5% above the average production,” the report states.

Furthermore, it reports that pearl millet production has also showed a considerable reduction in the expected harvest of at least 78% of last season's harvest and 68% below the average production, while sorghum production is said to be the hardest hit and losses of over 75% of last season's harvest and about 86% below the average production can be expected.



Govt interventions

Meanwhile, the report stated that the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has a total of 3 799 tonnes of maize grains with Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), already procured for milling.

The OPM has also procured 343 tonnes of pearl millet grains from AMTA for distribution to drought affected households.

Meanwhile, government has announced the Comprehensive Drought Interventions aimed at providing relief to the affected communities countrywide.

These measures are to be taken between April 2019 to March 2020 and include food assistance, water provisions, livestock marketing incentives, lease of grazing and transport, as well as fodder and licks subsidy for core herds.

According to the report this programme was preceded by earlier food relief intervention which was implemented in the Omaheke, Erongo, Kunene, Otjozondjupa, Hardap and //Karas regions between November 2018 and March 2019.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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