Coarse grain production down

Windhoek: The national’s aggregate coarse grain production (white maize, sorghum, pearl millet and wheat) is estimated at 67,800 metric tonnes.

This consists of 38,100 tonnes of white maize, 15,300 tonnes of pearl millet, 1,700 tonnes of sorghum and 12,700 tonnes of wheat, a national cereal production situation analysis for 2014/2015 has shown.

This represents a considerable decrease in output of 46 percent below average and 49 percent lower than the previous season’s production. This substantial decrease in production is attributed to the serious drought conditions experienced in the country this year. All the major dry land crop producing regions noted a massive reduction in harvests, which according to the analysis are below the average production and lower than the previous season’s harvest.

The poor crop harvest is due to poor rainfall experienced in the country this season and both communal and commercial dry land crop production sectors have been affected. National planted area to coarse grain production shrunk in various parts of the major crop producing regions.

The area planted to cereal crops this season is estimated at 346,500 hectares. This represents a decrease of about 11% below the average planted area and a slight increase of about 9% higher than last season. The below average planted area came as a result of severe drought conditions this season and farmers could not cover most parts of their crop fields.

A substantial reduction in planted area was more severe in the communal crop producing regions of Zambezi, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions. In the Kavango East and West regions as well as the commercial dry land areas. Most farmers covered a greater partsof their crop fields, but germination was poor and much of the crops.

The available cereal locally for the current marketing/ consumption period is estimated at 92,500 tonnes. This comprises of 20,300 tonnes of wheat, 54,700 tonnes of white maize and 17,500 tonnes of pearl millet and sorghum.

In contrast, the current cereal domestically available is only about 28% of the domestic cereal requirements; hence a shortfall of 234,000 tonnes is required to cover the shortfall. This is 59, 800 tonnes of wheat, 118,100 tonnes of maize and 56 100 tonnes of pearl millet and sorghum. The cereal food balance sheet further notes that after the considerations of imports received during May and June this year, an after trade deficit of 209, 100 tonnes is estimated.

This deficit consists of 47,000 tonnes of wheat, 107,100 tonnes of maize and 55,000 tonnes of millet/sorghum. This deficit under the normal circumstances is expected to be covered through commercial imports in the form of either grains or meals.