• February 23rd, 2020

Annus horribilis anticipated after failed rains

WINDHOEK – A government report released yesterday has painted ‘terrible year’ ahead after poor rains, with government urged to implement the drought relief measures without delay in order to provide help to desperate communities.
This is according to a Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation Report released yesterday by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU).

“The 2018/2019-rainfall season has been extremely poor and was seen in the forms of delayed onset of the rainfall season, sporadic and erratic rainfall patterns as well as frequent prolonged dry spells compounded by extremely high temperatures that exacerbated evaporation of the little moisture received,” the report stated.

This, according to the report is said to have affected the agricultural production and water resources. 
The assessment results from the Namibia Meteorological Services rainfall report shows that March 2019 was the fifth consecutive month with suppressed rainfall over the large part of the country.

 The report says provisional crop estimates, indicated that all crop-producing areas are expecting massive reductions in the expected harvest. 

“Aggregate cereal production shows that the country is expecting a substantial reduction in harvest of at least 53 percent of last season’s harvest and over 42 percent below the average production,” reads the report. 

This reduction is largely attributed to the general poor rainfall received during the 2018/2019-rainfall season.
“Household food security remained satisfactory in most regions of the country, following good improvements in agricultural production recorded in the last two seasons.” 
However, the report says the situation is expected to weaken as from the next harvest (May 2019) amidst poor crop production referred to above. 

“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 2017/2018 rainfall season coupled with the current ongoing drought conditions in the country,” says the report. 

It further reads, grazing conditions continue to deteriorate in most parts of the country in the midst of very poor and below average rainfall conditions experienced countrywide.

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

The document indicates that the central, southern, north central and the northwestern regions of the country are the most affected and livestock mortalities as a result of malnutrition were reported.

Furthermore, the report also advises regional councils with the assistance of traditional leaders (village headmen) to identify the most vulnerable and food insecure people to benefit from the drought relief measures. 

Government is also advised to speed up the renovations of the abattoirs north of Veterinary Cordon Fence to enable farmers to sell their livestock through formal market channels.

Likewise, the Directorate of Agriculture Production Extension, and Engineering Services is requested to continue advising farmers to prepare for a drought by taking the necessary precautionary measures such as de-stocking, culling and to ensure timely provision of sufficient basic inputs and services for the upcoming 2019/2020 agricultural season. 

Meanwhile, Cabinet last month announced it has approved a comprehensive drought relief intervention worth N$572.7 million to assist drought-affected communities in communal areas, who are grappling with the prevailing drought.
Namibia has been experiencing a persistently stubborn drought for the past six years, which has killed an unspecified number of livestock across the country, estimated to be worth millions of dollars. 

Farmers and farmers’ unions have called on President Hage Geingob to declare a national emergency due to widespread drought.

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2019-04-24 09:08:48 | 9 months ago

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