WINDHOEK - Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu says farmers in the region fear that this year might bring another dry spell and the possibility of food shortages due to the sporadic rainfall being experienced in the region.
“The main thing is that farmers are not quite sure if there is rain or not. They are afraid that it might be a dry spell again. But most farmers have ploughed and are still ploughing up to now,” he told New Era in an interview.
However, he said one cannot say there is drought in the region, as late rains might still fall.
He said many people are eager to plough and have prepared their fields already.
He said that during 2018 the Zambezi Region was a bit dry because it didn’t receive good rains. He said even livestock were negatively affected as they were very lean due to the dry spell and farmers were just waiting for the rain.
Therefore, he noted, most of these livestock especially oxen are still to recover for farmers to use them to plough. According to him, as a result of the rain experienced here and there, the grass has started growing and he was optimistic that livestock would be picking up weight after the November rainfall.
Sampofu said the region received some rain at the end of November last year for a week and then it disappeared.
“Some farmers have started ploughing. Some are still waiting for rain up to now. The rain is sporadic. You find when you drive to the villages, some farmers have ploughed while others have not started,” Sampofu said.
The weather forecast bureau predicted that as of February, March and April, there will be normal to average rainfall in Zambezi.
Sampofu is therefore appealing to farmers to make use of the opportunity when rains come to plough their fields with hard work and dedication to avoid food shortage in the region.
Asked about the water level of the Zambezi River, he said it started picking up last week, adding that it was very low at 0.6 metre and is now up to over one metre.
The Zambezi River water level drops to its lowest around November or early December – approximately 10 million litres per minute and this is naturally when the spray is at its least.
Local rains do affect the water level of the Zambezi River but it is when the headwaters (the huge volume of rain water that gathers upstream of the Victoria Falls in Zambia and Angola) start arriving in about February and peak in April, that the level of the Zambezi River rises dramatically – approximately 500 million litres per minute.
The 2,574-kilometre-long Zambezi River rises in Zambia and flows through eastern Angola, along the eastern border of Namibia and the northern border of Botswana, then along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to Mozambique, where it crosses the country to empty into the Indian Ocean.
Further, he revealed Lake Liambezi still has water from last year unlike in the past when it had completely run dry.
He also said the Kwando River for more than 10 years has overflowed into Lake Liambezi.
Lake Liambezi is characterised by cyclic episodes of filling and drying. When full the lake supports a highly productive fishery and when the lake is completely dry it is used for agriculture and grazing.