Poor harvest for commercial, communal farming

Commercial and communal farmers across the country are expected to harvest 88 900 metric tons, which is 33% below average and nearly 30% lower than last season, according to the crop prospect, food security and draught situation report.

According to the report, this is an indication that all the dry-land crop producing regions (both commercial and communal) are expecting poor crop harvest. The report revealed that, crop production, under rain-fed conditions yielded poor crop germinations, especially those planted from mid-December to February this season.

Farmers reported that, due to poor rainfall, crop germination was very poor. As a result, farmers attempted to replant so many times with limited success. The report further indicated that even the crops that germinated have since wilted due to limited moisture in the soil.

In the commercial maize triangle dry land area (Otavi, Tsumeb and Grootfontein), maize producers are reported to have planted at least 23% less than usual, due to poor rainfall at the critical planting periods, except for a few bigger produces that planted more, based on the rainfall outlook at that time which indicated normal to above normal rainfall conditions for Namibia. Over 50% of these producers are reported to have experienced total crop failure and as such, there will be zero maize harvest from their crop fields.

It is indicated in the report that the maize estimate in the communal area (Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West regions) is expected to drop by about 35% below average and 12% lower than last season’s harvest. The maize harvest outlook in the commercial area indicates a major drop estimated at 42% below last season’s harvest and 4% below the average production.
The reduction in harvest, especially when compared to the previous season, is as a result of total crop failure incurred by over 50% of maize dry-and producers in the maize triangle, the report explains.

The report also pointed out that household food security in households continues to weaken as the current consumption period progresses. According to most households interviewed, last season’s harvest is diminishing rapidly and is currently being supplemented with market purchases to prolong its availability. Many farmers reported that, there will be no significant improvement to food security in households this season because of the poor rainfall.

It also stated that poor grazing conditions, which have been widely reported, are prevalent in most parts of the country, except the north-east, where good grazing conditions were reported. Water availability (surface rain water) for rainfall dependent livestock is also reported to be poor this season, as most swamps and earth dams did not receive significant inflow. The affected regions are mostly the north-central regions that are heavily dependent on rainfall water for livestock.

According to the report, the north-eastern part of the country (Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West regions), grazing conditions were reported to have improved significantly in the midst of poor rainfall situation. Most areas in this part of the country, grazing was reported to range between good in the flood plain and areas along the river and very good in the inland. Furthermore, water availability for livestock, particularly rain water, is also said to be satisfactory as most swamps still have water.

In the north central regions, the grazing condition in most areas of Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati regions is worrisome and ranges between fair to poor.

According to farmers, grazing responded well to the few early good showers received in late November to early December, but the grass later started wilting due to lack of subsequent rainfalls. Many farmers in these areas have already started moving their livestock to cattle post areas for better grazing conditions. Water for livestock in these areas is reported to be stingily available, due to poor rainfall received. Most livestock in this area are heavily dependent on surface water (mainly rainfall) for hydration.
The report stated that, the rainfall performance for the 2014/2015 rainy season showed below-average rainfall throughout the country due to the low rainfall received, relative to normal. In January and February abnormally frequent and prolonged dry spells were experienced in most parts of the country, with only a few areas having received some showers.

The Southern and Western part of the country did not receive any rainfall during the same period. On the other hand, the report also states that in the south and central parts of the country, marketing of livestock is progressing well, but that farmers are reportedly unhappy about lower prices offered to them, with reference to the offers during February in the Khomas region, where the average price for cattle dropped from N$16/kg to N$11/kg.