Maize production much lower than previous years

27 Apr 2016 09:10am
WINDHOEK, 27 APR (NAMPA) - Yields in some crop-growing areas of the southern African region will be reduced due to the hot and dry conditions experienced this season.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), in its latest Agromet Update for the period 2015/2016 Agricultural Season issued on 08 April 2016, warned that maize production forecasts are much lower from countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region compared to the previous years.
“This will be the second consecutive season of low production in many areas, after the poor 2014/2015 season. Assessments by agricultural authorities are underway in some countries in order to get more accurate production forecasts. Maize production forecasts from South Africa as of 30 March 2016 are projecting a commercial maize harvest of 7.07 million metric tonnes (MT), which is 29 per cent less than last year and 41 per cent below the five-year average,” it warned.
After the heavy rains that fell between late February and mid-March, vegetation has improved considerably in many areas, according to the update. In other areas however, including parts of south-eastern Angola; southern and central Botswana; southern Madagascar; southern and parts of central Mozambique; western Namibia; western South Africa; and parts of eastern Zimbabwe, vegetation conditions remain below average. Pasture conditions in these areas are expected to remain poor but may improve marginally in some areas due to the recent rains.
Reports indicated that tens of thousands of cattle in the region have died due to the drought, with some estimates putting the figure at over 100 000 drought-related cattle deaths in the region. Short-term forecasts through to mid-April suggested the onset of dry and warmer than average conditions in the southern parts of the region, while central parts of the region are expected to receive seasonally low rainfall during this time and a few areas in the east should get above average rains.
“Temperatures in the central parts are forecast to be below average. Although warmer than average conditions are forecast for the south, temperatures are not expected to be as high as they were earlier in the season, due to a gradual shift to the cold season in the southern hemisphere occurring,” it added.