Poor rainfall delays cultivation

WINDHOEK - The first half of the 2018/2019 rainfall season saw an extremely poor rainfall which subsequently caused considerable delay in cultivation activities, notes the December 2018 Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security Situation report of the National Early Warning and Information System of Namibia.

Despite the early and good rains in the beginning of the rain season end of October and beginning of November last year, there were no follow up rains to usher in the beginning of the rain season. Farmers reported high temperatures, light showers and dry conditions dominating the first half of October to December last year with productive rains received only in December and early January this year which was still poor during a period in which many farmers had started with their agricultural activities.

Besides limited or no fertilisers, stocks were available in most regions, all the regions indicated their readiness with basic inputs and access to cultivation services to kick start their planting season. Grazing continued to deteriorate in various parts of the country amidst poor rainfall, the first half of the season exacerbated by prolonged dry season because of delayed rainy season and erratic rain patterns dominating the season. This situation was reported severe in some parts of the southern regions of the country were poor rainfall was experienced last season.

Household food security remained satisfactory in most regions following a significant improvement in agricultural production in the last two seasons. The majority of households were reported dependent on their harvest for food access. Households in the major communal crop producing regions had enough production that was expected to sustain them till the next harvest this May.

According to the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Regional Climate Outlook midseason review and update held in Maun in Botswana last December to review and update last August's seasonal outlook as well as presenting the consensus seasonal climate outlook for the Sadc region for March to May this year, the bulk of Sadc is likely to continue to get normal to below-normal rainfall for January to March, except South Africa, south-western Botswana, south-eastern Namibia, northern Angola, Tanzania, Madagascar, a bulk of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mauritius and the Seychelles were normal to above-normal rainfall conditions are expected.

From February to May, the bulk of Sadc is expected to receive normal to above normal rainfall conditions excepting southwestern and most of the south part of the region where normal to below-normal rainfall conditions are expected.

The Agro Business Information Services, responsible for the National Early Warning on Food Security in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, in collaboration with its cooperating partners carried out the Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security Monitoring System Assessment in the seven northern communal crop producing regions from November 18 to December 18, 2018. The main purpose of this assessment was to assess the overall agricultural inputs situation at household and regional levels and to find out the extent to which farmers are prepared for the 2018/2019 cropping season in terms of land preparation. And also to assess changes in household food security, the marketing of the 2017/2018 harvest as well as the water supply situation, livestock and grazing conditions.

Regional councils, regional agricultural extension offices and all constituencies in each region were visited and received briefings on household food security and the agricultural inputs situation respectively.

Source: New Era