Household food security situation worsens

WINDHOEK: This season’s drought has worsened the fragile household food security situation as Namibia is still recovering from the devastating effects of the 2012/2013 crop season.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) issued the warning last week in the latest crop prospects, food security and drought situation report issued for the month of June 2015.

“Although most households in the northern communal crop producing regions noted an improvement in crop harvest last season, such improvement was not sufficient and has already been depleted. According to the households, this season’s drought is even very severe than the 2012/2013 drought as many farmers only received a very little or no harvest at all. The recent harvest only provided a short-lived relieves to most household and this improvement is expected to last at most end of August this year,” it cautioned.

Meanwhile, majority of the farmers are currently dependent on the market purchases to supplement their poor harvest in order to prolong its availability. Farmers and the Regional Council officials are therefore requesting the government to provide them with drought relief foods and water for both human and livestock consumption, according to the report.

In a good season, household food security situation improve as from March when the green harvests such as green maize, cow peas, and squash become available and ready for consumption until the main harvest. However, the ministry reiterated farmers’ frustration about the limitation of these crops especially in the north central regions and communal crop growing areas of Omaheke, Kunene and Otjozondjupa regions.

Meanwhile, on livestock conditions and marketing, the report noted that livestock body conditions ranges between poor and fair. However, the situation is expected to deteriorate after the winter when most grazing materials have been depleted, according to the report. On a positive note, the report stated that the marketing of livestock is generally progressing well in most parts in the south and central parts of the country, following the advice from the government that farmers should sell some of their livestock because of the serious drought conditions this year.

However, the recent Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in the north central regions affected the destocking and marketing of livestock exercise as part of the drought mitigating measures.

Despite the advice given to farmers to sell some of their livestock, farmers in the north central regions are unable to sell their cattle because of the recent FMD outbreak which was detected in May this year. The Directorate of Veterinary Services in the ministry has since put some measures in place in order to contain the further spread of the diseases.

The Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU) in MAWF undertook its first crop assessment mission in the seven major communal crop producing regions as from 05 May to 02 June 2015.