Late rains in the 2015/16 crop season have slightly improved drought conditions, resulting in many crop farmers recording better crop germination that could yield improved crop harvests.
Grazing conditions are affected by poor rainfall and could not make a significant recovery, but the situation is slightly better than last season.
This news is contained in the latest Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation Report, released on Tuesday by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Provisional crop estimates indicate a slight improvement but still below the average production.
It was noted that maize production in the communal areas of the Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West regions showed a slight improvement of about 2 percent on last season’s harvest, but is 62 percent below the average production. Similarly, maize harvest prospects in the commercial area indicated a slight improvement of 2 percent higher than last season’s harvest but 35 percent below the average production.
Mahangu (pearl millet) production showed a significant improvement of 46 percent but is 39 percent below average production. Sorghum production showed a negative outlook with its harvest expected to drop by 68 percent below average, and 17 percent lower than last season’s crop harvest
Household food security continued to weaken in various parts of the regions as most households are reported to have depleted last season’s harvest and are now dependent on the market and government’s drought relief food programme for food access.
It was reported that the supply of drought relief food is inadequate when compared to the number of people that are food insecure.
Households noted that drought relief food distribution takes too long to come to their rescue and only targets certain households that are regarded as most vulnerable.
Grazing was reported to have improved slightly in most parts of the country, but remained fragile given the ongoing poor rainfall.
Poor to fair grazing conditions were reported in the north-central, west and southern parts. Good grazing conditions were reported in the north-east, while in the central and eastern parts grazing was reported to range between fair and good.
While some farmers have reason to smile, the water availability for livestock (rain water) is limited, as most water catchments did not receive significant inflows. The affected regions are mostly the north-central regions that are heavily dependent on surface/rainfall water for livestock.
It was recommended that the drought relief food programme be strengthened by increasing the supply of drought relief food to the regions and ensure timely delivery and cover all households affected by drought.
It is also advised to consider extending the programme, which was set to end in March 2016, while awaiting for the outcomes of the post-harvest crop and household food security and vulnerability assessment.