Poor rainfall and zero maize harvest

09 Apr 2015 08:20am
WINDHOEK, 09 APR (NAMPA) - Although recent increases in rainfall may have helped eliminate moisture deficits in some areas, prolonged dry spells and an erratic distribution of rainfall have hampered crop development in many areas.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) issued the warning last week in its latest global weather hazards summary for the period 03 to 09 April 2015.
“Compared to climatology, this past week’s rainfall totals marked a second consecutive week with average to above-average rainfall across southern Africa. Although recent increases in rainfall may have helped to eliminate moisture deficits in some areas, prolonged dry spells and an erratic distribution of rainfall since the beginning of the season have hurt crop development in many areas,” it stated.
According to the summary, in the western parts of southern Africa, rainfall has been 100 to 300 millimetres below average.
The latest crop prospects, food security and drought situation report issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry dated 15 March 2015, warned that national crop production is provisionally estimated at 88 900 metric tonnes, which is 33 per cent below average and nearly 30 per cent lower than last season.
It raised concern that in the commercial maize triangle: Otavi, Tsumeb and Grootfontein, maize producers are reported to have planted at least 23 per cent less than usual due to poor rainfall at the critical planting period. Over 50 per cent of these producers are reported to have experienced a total crop failure and as such, there will be zero maize harvest from their crop fields. The crop prospects emphasised that household food security situations in Namibia continue to weaken as the current consumption period progresses.
“Even if rainfall conditions improved for the remainder of the season, it will be too late for the crop to be revived, hence very poor to no harvest in most of these areas is likely to occur,” the crop prospects added.
Poor grazing conditions have also been widely reported in various parts of the country, except in the northeast where good grazing conditions were reported. Water availability, surface rainwater, for rainfall dependent livestock is also reported to be poor this season, as most swamps and earth dams did not receive significant inflow.
The affected regions are mostly the north central regions that are heavily dependent on surface and rainwater for livestock.
Meanwhile, FEWSNET predicted that heavy downpours are forecast to continue over the western portions of southern Africa during the next week, including eastern Angola, north-eastern Namibia and north-western Botswana, which may trigger flash flooding in some areas.