Sporadic rains affect food security in SADC Region

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Windhoek

The SADC says the 2014/15 rainfall season was generally poor in most parts of the region, with prolonged dry spells in some parts and both floods and prolonged dry spells in other parts resulting in an unsatisfactory overall food security situation for the 2015/16 marketing year.

Director for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) at the SADC Secretariat Margaret Nyirenda, said this during a media briefing at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC).

Nyirenda explained that Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, southern Angola and Zimbabwe experienced prolonged dry spells while Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique experienced both floods and prolonged dry spells. She added that the poor rainfall has led to an unsatisfactory overall regional food security situation for the 2015/16 marketing year, with an overall cereal (maize, wheat, rice, millet and sorghum) deficit of 7.90 million tonnes, compared to a surplus of 1.21 million tonnes in 2014/15 marketing year.

“This year the regional cereal availability is estimated at 40.4 million tonnes, representing a drop of 11.4% from 45.62 million tonnes last year. It is important to note that this year availability of maize, which usually makes up more than 75% of total cereal production, is forecast at 27.40 million tonnes compared to 36.79 million tonnes last year,” Nyirenda pointed out.

She further explained that the total requirement for the region this year is estimated at 34.50 million tonnes against 31.73 million tonnes that is available, thereby reflecting an overall maize deficit of 2.64 million tonnes.
On Cassava, Nyirenda said that production from Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia amounted to 44.80 million tonnes representing a drop in production compared to last year’s production of 48.06 million tonnes. She observed that although lower than last year’s production, the 2015 production is still above the 5-year average, indicating the resilience of the crop to drought.

With regards to legumes, Nyirenda said that available data indicate that a total of 2.12 million tonnes were produced by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa while production of oil seeds from Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa was forecast at 2.18 million tonnes.

In the area of livestock production, she pointed out that according to the 2014 Vulnerability Assessment Report an average annual increase of 4% beef, 6% mutton and lamb, 0.7% pork, 4% poultry, 2 % milk and 3% for eggs is projected. However, in spite of this projected increase in production, the region remains a net importer of most livestock products. Arguably, the region has great potential to increase livestock production, especially for small stock and poultry.

In fisheries production, Nyirenda noted there was a steady increase due to increases in aquaculture production in some of the member states. The aquaculture sub-sector has generated an annual average growth rate of about 10%. She however observed that the overall capture fisheries production trends indicate that the region produces only 2.4 million tonnes of the 91.3 million tonnes of global captured fisheries, both of which have stagnated.

She stated that the region continues to take the necessary measures to provide food and non-food relief supplies to the 27.42 million vulnerable people and support them to recover from the disaster; and to promote and scale-up appropriate climate smart technologies on agriculture, energy, water and other relevant areas which mitigate against the impact of climate change and improve food security in the region.

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