Below-average rainfall could hamper grazing

04 Feb 2015 09:00am
WINDHOEK, 04 FEB (NAMPA) – The low rainfall figures recorded in Namibia since the beginning of the rainy season could lead to reduced grazing in parts of the country.
The latest Food Security Early Warning System (FEWSNET) Agromet Update Bulletin - issued and prepared in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) last month - indicated that rainfall was generally low in the north-west and north-central parts of Namibia in November and December.
Heavy rainfall was, however, received in some areas in early December.
“The low rainfall has led to reduced grazing in parts of the country, with satellite images of vegetation also indicating below-average conditions in some of the northern areas.
With the national seasonal forecast predicting normal-to-below normal rainfall for the period January to March 2015 in some of these areas, close monitoring will be required,” it cautioned.
The low rainfall was associated with a delayed and erratic onset of rain.
In many of the affected areas, the seasonal onset of rains were delayed by 30 to 40 days, according to the bulletin.
However, it warned that the delayed onset and subsequent late planting could shorten the window of time available for crops to grow and mature before the end of the season, or before mid-season dry spells set in.
This will potentially result in reduced crop yields and delayed harvests.
Despite the late and erratic onset, there is sufficient time for recovery if good rains occur for the remainder of the season, as was the case during the 2013/2014 season.
Meanwhile, the bulletin warned that oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Pacific Ocean remain close to El Niño thresholds, with a 62 per cent chance that an El Niño event will occur during the 2014/2015 season, according to a consensus forecast issued in January by US-based climate forecasting centres.
“El Niño, a large-scale climatic phenomenon with global impacts, is often associated with reduced rainfall in some parts of southern Africa.
Historically, not all El Niño events have resulted in low rainfall in the region, with some areas being more regularly affected than others,” it added.