Poor harvest predicted nationwide

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ONGWEDIVA – Maize harvest prospects in the commercial farming areas of Otavi and Grootfontein have significantly dropped because of erratic rains experienced in the rainy season.

Poor rains have caused a poor harvest not only in commercial farming areas but in communal areas and impacted on overall national food security. Most of the farmers planted their maize between December and early January and germination was generally good. However, as from mid-January and for the whole of February, there were no rains and severe and prolonged dry spells were occurring more frequently, resulting in the crops wilting.

According to a report made available to New Era by the ministry of agriculture, maize harvest in the commercial area will drop by a significant 42 percent below last season’s harvest and four percent below the average national production.

Over 92 percent of the harvest of about 39 850 tonnes will come from irrigated projects and dryland maize will account for only eight percent.

“The reduction in harvest, especially when compared to the previous season is as a result of total crop failure incurred by over 50 percent of maize dryland producers in the maize triangle,” read the crop assessment report.

Apart from maize, the production prospects for pearl millet (mahangu) showed a decrease of over 51 percent below average and 35 percent, lower than last season’s harvest.

Sorghum production has also showed a negative prospect with its harvest expected to decrease by 60 percent below average, and 23 percent lower than last season’s harvest.

Overall the coarse grain aggregate production of maize, millet, sorghum and wheat indicated a decrease in the expected harvest of about 29 percent below average and 33 percent lower than last season’s harvest.

Apart from the poor production and harvest of the coarse grains, green produce which usually improve food security situation from mid March up to main harvest in May, will be scarce in some areas, especially in the north central regions.

Because of the worrisome findings, the report has thus recommended an immediate drought relief food supply to the most vulnerable groups, while awaiting the outcome of the post-harvest crop assessment and vulnerability assessment missions.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, announced government has availed N$300 million for the implementation of interim measures, for the next three to four months. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila announced the interim drought relief measures will be carried out while pending the final drought assessment.

The report has also suggested Namibia should reinforce food or cash-for-work programme in the regions to target households without access to land for cultivation and livestock in order to provide them with a temporary safety net.

“These activities in addition could be broadened to include less labour intensive activities such as gardening, fruit tree planting, and animal husbandry and can be extended to include the rest of the country,” read the report.

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