The expected white maize harvest from the Maize Triangle and environs has shot up to 6 916 tonnes and the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) yesterday indicated the country could harvest over 37 000 tonnes of white maize this cropping season.
This is a slight increase from the preliminary report some two weeks ago, which suggested a dismal total crop harvest of just some 32 000 tonnes.
According to Antoinette Venter, administrative wheat and maize manager of the NAB, some 4 161 hectares of maize was planted this season – of which 3 039 hectares are in the Maize Triangle and 1 122 hectares in the central and eastern areas. Some 800 hectares were planted in the Zambezi Region. A total white maize harvest of 9 755 tonnes is expected from these areas.
A total of 3 078 ha were planted in the areas under irrigation and a total harvest of 27 741 tonnes is expected from these fields.
In the central and eastern areas, 89 ha were planted with an expected yield of 905 tonnes, and in the Hardap and environs 650 ha are under irrigation with an expected yield of 5 850 tonnes.
Some 1 818 ha were planted in Kavango East and West regions and the total contribution from these areas is 15 907 tonnes.
In total, 7 239 ha were planted countrywide and expectations shot up to a total harvest of 37 496 tonnes.
With this scenario playing out, Namibia will most probably have to import some 120 000 tonnes of maize to fill the gap in the market due to poor rainfall in the current planting season.
Last year, the country had to import 210 000 tonnes of cereal to keep hunger at bay. “Namibia has produced very little maize locally. The preliminary report might be a bit conservative, but it looks like Namibian dry-land farmers will only produce about a maximum of 37 000 tonnes of irrigation maize. Things might still change slightly for the better,” Venter noted.
Namibia’s 2015 maize crop was 44 percent lower compared to 2014’s (above average) output, according to the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). It noted that around half of all dry-land commercial farmers experienced total crop losses as a result of drought and high temperatures.
“An estimated 370 316 people are food insecure and the target of a government drought relief programme,” it warned.
South Africa is the biggest victim of the drought. It is the region’s main maize producer, but last year output fell 30 percent below the bumper 2014 season and it may have to import around six million tonnes of maize.
Planting of the 2016 cereal crop began later than normal due to delayed rains, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
South Africa says the current El Niño-induced drought is the worst the country has suffered in more than half a century. WFP warned that with little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals long ago closed in some countries, the outlook is alarming.
“The region is ill prepared for a shock of this magnitude, particularly since the last growing season was also affected by drought. This means depleted regional stocks, high food prices, and substantially increased numbers of food insecure people,” the UN agency added.
Meanwhile, local millers Namib Mills and Bokomo announced price increases on all their product categories earlier this year, with warnings of more food price increases to come.