Namibia is expected to produce a whopping 68,865 tonnes of white maize this season, more than 23,000 tonnes up from last season’s 45,050 tonnes of maize, which is the staple diet of most Namibians.
Late and solid rains in all cropping seasons are responsible for the surge after last season’s drought impacted severely on planting. According to the latest preliminary report by the Namibia Agronomic Board, the dry land production areas of the Maize Triangle and environs will contribute 31,011 tonnes of white maize, while the Kavango Region will contribute 21,388 tonnes.
The central and eastdern regions near Summerdown will produce an expected 5,224 tonnes and the Hardap Region will bring 5,923 tonnes to the table. Some 819 tonnes is expected to come from the Omusati Region and environs.
The irrigation areas will make a total contribution of 45,196 tonnes with the Kavango Region leading the way with 20,269 tonnes. Hardap and environs will deliver 5,923 tonnes.
Local Namibian intentions to plant were still slightly lower than previous years, as the local producers were exposed to adverse droughts for the past four years. This had a tremendous effect on the producers’ financial ability to be exposed to such risks again.
This must also be seen in light of the slow process of delivery and inadequate drought relief received from governmental bodies. Local dry-land producers are also unable to insure against drought, as insurance companies perceive the risk to be too high. This however, is detrimental for dry-land plantings under the current drought-relief regime. The scheme does not facilitate the needs of commercial farmers. In the longer-term this will lead to lower dry-land plantings and therefore lower national harvests.
The good news, however, is that price decreases on maize meal can be expected in the near future up to the next harvest, as prices are coming down after the good rains. Prices will then tend to stabilise as we near the harvest of 2017.
Given that the exceptional decline in white maze production in Namibia’s dryland maize areas in 2016 was largely a result of the drought as opposed to economic considerations, maize producers and the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) are cautiously optimistic about a rather strong recovery in 2017 and up to 2020, says Antoinete Venter, administrator of the NAB.
Since 2013 Namibia had to import some 200,000 tonnes of cereals on average to feed hungry mouths and last year the figure of people directly dependent on government drought food aid jumped to 600,000 people.
Namibia’s 2015 and 2016 maize crop was some 40% lower than 2014’s above-average output, according to figures released by 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 the drought and high temperatures.