Crops Poor in the North – USAID

THE crop performance in northern Namibia does not look promising because of low rainfall, a recent food security outlook report has suggested.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Famine Early Warning System in its Food Security Outlook Report for April until September 2014 said crop performance is expected to remain good in most parts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) except in parts of northern Namibia.

It cautioned that following a late start of the season, the remainder of the Southern African monsoon season in March and April will likely be near normal in terms of total rainfall across the region, especially in Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia.

“Crop performance is therefore expected to remain good in most of the region except parts of Angola, Tanzania, and northern Namibia where current rainfall performance indicates that below normal seasonal outcomes are likely to occur,” it stated.

Early cessation of rains is not expected in most areas that experienced a delayed start of season (parts of eastern Zambia, southern Malawi, and northcentral Mozambique).

On a positive note, this will allow the late planted crops to reach maturity without compromising yields.

The report stressed that this outcome is indicated by an analysis of factors, including short-term forecasts, current soil moisture conditions, recent rainfall, and the likelihood of rainfall following recent five-year trends.

It is expected that agriculture labour opportunities will be at levels typical for the normal April to September period. Farmers will thus focus on harvesting, processing, storage and marketing during the first part of the outlook period, according to the report.

On pest infestations and disease outbreaks, the report put emphasis on an investigation done by the International Red Locust Control Organisation for central and southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) that fewer armyworm outbreaks took place over the 20132014 rainy season. This is due to the control measures put in place following last season’s outbreaks.

However, it warned that if uncontrolled, the hoppers will likely form adult swarms by April into May, which will migrate from outbreak areas posing serious threat to crops and pasture in neighbouring countries.

The report reminded farmers that some swarms may migrate as far as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola as well as Tanzania’s east African neighbours.

On markets and trade, the report noted that with the new harvest expected to be available by April, most households across the region are expected to reduce their dependence on markets for staple foods, reducing pressure on local markets, and subsequently leading to the typical seasonal drop in food prices.

“With current seasonal performance indicating near normal (average) production levels in most of the region, it is expected that upcoming 2014 crop harvests will boost staple food supplies between April and September, and provide incentives for local and cross-border traders to embark on purchases for export,” it added.

Nampa

Source : The Namibian