Despite poor rains in the 2017/2018 rainy season, most parts of the crop-producing areas have noted good crop germination, signalling a good harvest, says the March report of the Namibia Crop Prospects and Food Security Situation of the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU).
Poor rainfall was received in all parts of the country during the 2017/2018 rainfall season stretching through January and February. Farmers reported sporadic light to moderate showers towards the end of last October and early last November in most parts of the country. This was worsened by lack of follow-up rains most of last December and early January.
According to provisional crop estimates, a positive crop harvest is expected after most crop-producing regions attained good crop germination. Except for the Zambezi Region and the commercial farming area, all major crop-producing regions recorded improvements in expected yields with most regions recording above average level.
Provisional crop estimates indicated a considerable improvement in the expected harvest, significantly higher than last season’s harvest in the Kavango East and West, as well as the Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto regions. The regions of Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto, as well as the commercial farming area, showed an above average improvement. However, the commercial area showed a significant reduction in maize production due to fall armyworm infestations and poor rainfall conditions. Aggregate cereal estimates show that the country expects a slight reduction of one percent on last season’s harvest but overall 12 percent above average production.
Maize forecast in the communal area, particularly in the Zambezi and Kavango East and West regions indicated a slight reduction of two percent on last season’s harvest and about seven percent below average production. This reduction was largely attributed to poor rains. However, maize production in the two regions of Kavango showed an improvement of 34 percent of last season’s harvest, but still 68 percent lower below the average production. Maize production in the commercial area, on the other hand, showed a significant reduction of about 19 percent from last season but 41 percent above average production. This is due to poor rains in the dry-land maize production areas and the fall armyworms, which affected both green scheme and dry-land commercial areas.
Pearl millet production, improved considerably from 19 percent on last season, and an above average production of 22 percent expected in the regions of Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango East and West, and Zambezi. However, sorghum production showed a negative of three percent on last season and a 62 percent below average production.
This was due to poor rains and a shortage of seed, a problem that has been experienced for two consecutive seasons now. The production of wheat, as a winter crop, starts next month and June. However, harvest estimates for 2016/2017 were used for the 2017/2018 estimates. In this regard, the national coarse-grain aggregate production (maize, millet, sorghum and wheat) showed a slight reduction in the expected harvest with one percent from last season but 12 percent above average production.
Illustration: Cumulative Rainfall