Crops bettter than last season but still below average

06 Apr 2016 15:00pm
WINDHOEK, 06 APR (NAMPA) – Provisional crop estimates have indicated that most of the communal dry land crop producing regions are expecting poor crop harvests, which is below average but much better than last season’s harvest.
The Zambezi and Oshana regions are also expecting poor crop harvests below average but these are lower than last season’s harvest, according to the first Crop Assessment mission in the seven major communal crop-producing regions as from 01 to 26 February 2016 as issued by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU).
“From the table, it is indicated that maize forecast in the communal area (Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West regions) showed a slight improvement of about two per cent of last season’s harvest, but is 62 per cent below the average production,” it noted.
Similarly, maize harvest prospects in the commercial area indicated a slight improvement of two per cent higher than last season’s harvest but it is 35 per cent below the average production. It was noted that many commercial dry land maize producers had only covered about 50 per cent of their crop fields in fear of a crop failure, which they incurred last season when they cultivated a large portion of their crop fields.
Pearl millet production showed a significant improvement of 46 per cent of last season’s harvest, but is 39 per cent below the average production. This improvement is based on the good crop germination reported in Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango East and Kavango West regions.
Sorghum production, on the other hand, is said to have been affected not only by poor rainfall performance but also seed shortages experienced this season. As a result, sorghum production showed a negative outlook with harvest expected to drop by 68 per cent below average, and 17 per cent lower than last season’s harvest.
Wheat is a winter crop and production thereof will start in winter. However, for the purpose of national aggregate and analysis, harvest estimates for the 2014/2015 were used to develop the 2015/2016 estimates, according to the assessment.
“Therefore, as a country, the national coarse grain aggregate production (maize, millet, sorghum and wheat) showed a slight improvement in the expected harvest of 11 per cent above last season’s harvest, but is 35 per cent below the average production,” it noted.
The poor harvest, according to farmers, is due to poor rainfall seen in the form of sporadic, erratic and insufficient rainfall coupled with frequent dry spells. In the Zambezi Region, farmers reported the 2015/2016 rainfall season started late in November to early December, but was followed by irregular and insufficient rainfall with dry spells in December and January.
This is said to have caused poor crop germination, especially maize, and even those germinated have since started to wilt due to lack of moisture in the soil. In the Oshana Region, most constituencies did not receive significant rainfall to support crop production and pasture establishment.
Many farmers attempted to plough their crop fields, following some showers received in December and January, but germination was very poor. Majority of farmers attempted to replant several times with limited or no success.
It was further noted that even the crops that managed to germinate have since dried up because of dry spells accompanied by higher temperatures and dry windy conditions.
According to assessment, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikoto, Kavango East and Kavango West regions noted good crop germination better than last season, which if good rainfall conditions prevail for the remainder of the season, may result in a better crop harvest but still below the average production.
The purpose of this assessment was to assess crop condition in the major crop-growing regions of Namibia and provide an early warning report on geographic locations of agronomic anomalies, the effects of floods, droughts and other significant events.