Namibians still food-secure despite drought


Namibian households’ food security situation continues to be satisfactory despite the ongoing scourge of drought due to good improvements in agricultural production recorded in the last two seasons, a ministerial report for December 2018 reveals.


According to the report which got released last week, a majority of households are reportedly dependent on their harvests for food access.


“According to households interviewed in the major communal crop producing regions, their production is enough and expected to sustain them till the next harvest in May 2019. Many of pearl millet and maize producers were able to sell their surplus grains to commercial millers, particularly to Namib Mills.”


 “However, due to limited demand from the millers, much of the grains are still in the market unsold especially pearl millet. It was reported that, the main problem about unsold grains in due to the inability of the Agricultural Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) to buy the remaining surplus grains as it used to be customary, citing lack of funds as the main reason,” says the report.


However, the report notes that pockets of food insecurity were also reported in areas that suffered poor agricultural production as a result of prolonged dry spells or floods during the 2017/2018 rainfall season.


 On the grazing side, conditions were reported to have deteriorated in various parts of the country during the course of the prolonged dry season and were noted to range between fair and very poor.


The situation is reported to have been exacerbated by the delayed rainy season as well as the general poor rainfall performance which is said to be dominating the season.


According to the assessment, the situation is noted to be more severe in the southern regions of the country where poor rainfall was experienced last season.  


On the livestock side, the report notes that body conditions were reported to range between fair and good in most parts of the country.


“However, pocket areas of poor to very poor conditions were reported in areas that suffered the effect of poor rainfall last season. In the north-eastern regions, conditions of the livestock are said to be fair in the Eastern part of Zambezi region and areas along the river in Kavango East and Kavango West regions, while elsewhere in these regions, livestock conditions are said to range between fair and good.”


 “Livestock conditions in the north central regions are reported to range between poor and fair (in areas around the township) and fair to good in the cattle post areas. However, due to delayed and general poor rainfall performance, the situation is reported to be worsening and some farmers have started losing their livestock due to severe malnutrition,” the report says.


Due to a seemingly delays in the onset of the rainfall season and the general poor rainfall performance accompanied by high temperatures, cultivation activities were delayed.


 At the time of the assessment, many farmers in the communal crop producing regions are reported to have completed clearing their crop fields for cultivation.


“Farmers reported that not much is happening regarding cultivation, but preparations of crop fields for cultivations were completed with few farmers rounding up and waiting for productive rainfall for them to start with cultivations.”


“The start of the rainfall appears to be normal when most areas recorded their first rain toward end of October to early November. However, the start of the season was marred by lack of follow up rains to strengthen the onset of the rainfall season, November and most of December was devoid of any significant rainfall,” the report says.


As a result, farmers were unable to start with cultivation, except the ripping services and the river crop field areas in the Zambezi region.