Provisional crop estimates indicate that most of the communal dry land crop-producing regions are expecting poor crop harvests, which are below average, but somewhat better than last season’s harvest.
The Zambezi and Oshana regions are, however, expecting poor crop harvests, which are below average and lower than last season’s harvest.
According to the latest Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation report, poor harvest prospects in the country are due to poor rainfall, which took the form of sporadic, erratic and insufficient rains, coupled with frequent dry spells.
In the Zambezi Region this caused poor crop germination, especially maize, and even those plants that germinated have since started to wilt due to lack of moisture in the soil.
In the Oshana Region, most constituencies did not receive significant rainfall to support crop production and pasture establishment. Many farmers attempted to plough their crop fields, following some showers received in December and January, but germination was very poor.
The majority of farmers attempted to replant several times with limited or no success. It was further noted that even the crops that managed to germinate have since dried up because of dry spells, accompanied by higher temperatures and dry, windy conditions.
Nevertheless, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikoto, Kavango East and Kavango West regions noted good crop germination better than last season. If good rainfall conditions prevailed for the remainder of the season, it may result in a better crop harvest, but it was still below the average annual production.
It is indicated that maize forecast for the communal areas (Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West regions) showed a slight improvement of about 2% on last season’s harvest, but was still 62% below the average annual production.
Similarly, maize harvest prospects in the commercial area indicate a slight improvement (2% higher than last season’s harvest), but still 35% below the average production.
It was noted that many commercial dry land maize producers had only covered about 50% of their crop fields in fear of a crop failure, which they incurred last season when they cultivated a large portion of their crop fields.
Pearl millet production showed a significant improvement of 46% on last season’s harvest, but is yet 39% below average yearly production. This improvement is based on the good crop germinations reported in Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango East and Kavango West regions.
Sorghum production on the other hand is said to have been affected by poor rainfall performance, as well as seed shortages experienced this season. As a result sorghum production showed a negative outlook, with its harvest expected to drop by 68% below average, and 17% lower than last season’s harvest.
Wheat is a winter crop and production thereof will start in winter. However, for the purpose of developing national aggregates and analyses, harvest estimates for the 2014/2015 were used to develop the 2015/2016 estimates.
In brief, as a country the national coarse grain aggregate production (maize, millet, sorghum and wheat) showed a slight improvement in the expected harvest of 11% above last season’s harvest but is 35% below the average production.