Poor rainfall performance this agricultural season has affected the recovery of grazing pasture in the country from the dry spell last year.
According to the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit in its March Namibia Crop Prospects and Food Security Situation report, most parts of the country reported distressed grazing condition largely attributed to poor rains. However, grazing conditions in the north-eastern parts of the country (Kavango East and West and Zambezi regions) are reported to be much better than the rest of the country given the relatively better rains received in that area.
At the time of the assessment, grazing in the north-eastern regions was reported to range between fair and good in the floodplain and areas along the rivers while very good grazing conditions were reported in the inland areas. Water for both livestock and human consumption was reported to be abundantly available with rivers, streams, boreholes and a few ponds, as the main sources.
Poor to fair grazing conditions were reported in the extreme southern parts of the Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and the central and western part of Oshikoto regions. These areas were negatively affected by poor rainfall, which, according to farmers, was erratic and sporadic coupled with frequent prolonged dry spells. However, most parts of Omusati and the extreme parts of the Oshikoto and Ohangwena regions saw fair to good grazing conditions. Grazing conditions and water availability are expected to improve with the recent rains received in most parts of the country, especially where livestock depend on rainwater.
In the southern part of the country, very poor to poor grazing conditions were reported compared to the same time last year. Grazing in the //Kharas Region ranged from critical to poor with the Bondelswartz communal area and the Warmbad townlands the worst affected. In the Aroab area, grazing was reported to be in fair condition but the quality was still poor. The northern, eastern and western part of Berseba received fairly good rains for the past three months of the reporting month of March with grazing improving fairly. Due to poor grazing in the //Kharas region, most commercial farmers were supplementing their livestock with licks and fodder presenting a challenge to a number of emerging and resettlement farmers unable to provide supplements to their livestock. In the Hardap Region, Aranos, Maltahöhe and Hoachanas were reported to be most affected by poor grazing while Amperbo and Vlakplaas in the Klakplato area critical grazing conditions were reported. To cope, most farmers in the Maltahöhe area have reduced their livestock heavily in the past years due to the poor state in the commercial areas. Farmers were reportedly worried the situation could worsen if no further rains were received for the remainder of the rainy season. Furthermore, in areas like Okombahe, Spitzkoppe, Tubusis and Uis in the Daures Constituency grazing conditions were reported to be critical, as no rains were received during the time of assessment.
Poor to very poor grazing conditions were also reported in most parts of the Omaheke Region with livestock facing severe drought conditions this year.
Grazing conditions in the Kunene Region reportedly ranged between very poor and poor in the entire region except in the area of Outjo where grazing ranged between fair and good. In the Otjozondjupa Region, grazing was said to have improved slightly during January following some few showers and rated to be in a fair state in most parts, except
Okakarara and Gam constituencies where poor grazing was reported. Grazing in Ovitoto was also reported to be extremely poor. The condition of livestock in the north-eastern part of the country was reported to be good reportedly due to good grazing in the area. Water supply was reported satisfactory with rivers, streams, boreholes and ponds as the main sources.
Poor to good livestock body conditions were reported in most of the north central region with extreme eastern parts of Oshikoto and Ohangwena and most of Omusati reporting good grazing. Water availability, particularly for livestock, was reported slightly satisfactory with most of the rain-fed catchment areas having received sufficient water inflow.
Livestock in the //Kharas region was reported to be in poor condition, especially in the communal areas, but fair in commercial area due to supplement efforts. In Helmeringhausen and most parts of Berseba, livestock conditions were reported to be fair to good due to better rains compared to the rest of the region. Few cases of livestock mortalities were reported in the communal areas of the Karasburg Constituency in the region because of poor grazing and in the commercial area due to plant poisoning.
The regions of Kunene and Omaheke reported very poor to poor livestock conditions with livestock mortalities in Omaheke.