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Drought Disaster Looms

Drought Disaster Looms

Video: Failed crops in the North. – Footage: Placido Hilukilwa

Niël Terblanché
A SHARP reduction in the amount of food that can be produced by Namibian Farmers of all areas in the country and the deaths of almost 65 000 farm animals because of the disastrous drought is expected encumber the food security situation in the country.
The President of Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingobb, in his recent Sate of the Nation Address referred to the looming disaster after Cabinet announced in March that it has approved a comprehensive drought relief intervention worth N$572.7 million to assist drought-affected farmers.
According to the latest Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation Report by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU) the 2018/2019-rainfall season has been extremely poor and was seen in the forms of delayed onset of the rainfall season, sporadic and erratic rainfall patterns as well as frequent prolonged dry spells compounded by extremely high temperatures that exacerbated evaporation of the little moisture received. This is said to have affected the agricultural production and water resources. According to the Namibia Meteorological Services rainfall report, March 2019 was the fifth consecutive month with suppressed rainfall over the large part of the country.
Poor rainfall since October 2018 until the end of March 2019 caused 30 876 cattle to die. In the same time 24 598 goats, 8 238 sheep, 518 donkeys and 296 horses have died due to poor grazing and a lack of water.
Provisional crop estimates, indicated that all crop-producing areas are expecting massive reductions in the expected harvest. Aggregate cereal production shows that the country is expecting a substantial reduction in harvest of at least 53% of last season’s harvest and over 42% below the average production. This reduction is largely attributed to the general poor rainfall received during the 2018/2019-rainfall season.
Household food security remained satisfactory in most regions of the country, following good improvements in agricultural production recorded in the last two seasons. The situation is however expected to weaken as from the next harvest (May 2019) amidst poor crop production referred to above. Pockets of food insecurity are also still being reported in various areas especially those that suffered poor agricultural production due to prolonged dry spells or floods during the 2017/2018 rainfall season coupled with the current ongoing drought conditions in the country.
Grazing conditions continue to deteriorate in most parts of the country in the midst of very poor and below average rainfall conditions experienced countrywide. In most areas, grazing is reported to vary between fair to poor (in Zambezi, Kavango West and Kavango East regions) to very poor elsewhere in the country. The central, southern, north central and the north western regions of the country are the most affected and livestock mortalities as a result of malnutrition were reported.

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