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Maize shortfalls, inadequate fertilizers paints ugly picture

By: Kelvin Chiringa

The country is currently limping with an estimated 62 600 metric tons of uncovered shortfalls for maize, as the threat of drought loom over the farming sector.

However the agriculture ministry expressed confidence that this, under normal circumstances, can be covered through more commercial imports.

A latest food security report confirmed that the first half of the 2018/2019-rainfall season noted an extremely poor rainfall performance, which subsequently caused considerable delays in the cultivation activities.

This publication has in the meantime been informed that the country remains food secure although farmers have gone on the overdrive to pull in funds for drought mitigation.

That Namibia is not in the red yet as far as food security is concerned is attested by the ministry’s confirmation that since the start of the 2018/2019 marketing season in May 2018, imports for cereal grains were received.

The ministry said by end of December 2018, the country had imported aggregate cereals of 93 300 metric tons.

This consists of 69 900 metric tons of wheat, 22 000 metric tons of white maize and 1 000 metric tons of pearl millet.

“The imports has also resulted in a surplus of 2 500 metric tons of wheat,” says the ministerial report.

 Although there were some imports for pearl millet/sorghum, there was over 2 600 metric tons of pearl millet/sorghum in the market.

“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,” says the report.

The report has also noted that pockets of food insecurity exist in areas that suffered poor agricultural production as a result of prolonged dry spells or floods during the 2017/2018 rainfall season.

 Going forward, the picture looks a bit unnerving.

Limited or no fertilizers stock noted in most regions remains a cause of concern, as this will affect the already rainfall stressed crop production.

However, apart from limited or no fertilizers stock available in most of the regions, all the regions indicated their readiness in terms of having the basic inputs and access to cultivation services in place to kick start the season.

What now?

The ministry has highlighted that due to the current prevailing drought conditions, the Directorate of Agriculture Production Extension, and Engineering Services is requested to:

Advice farmers to prepare for a drought by taking the necessary precautionary measures such as de-stocking, culling, etc.

 Ensure timely provision of sufficient basic inputs and services as well as advice crop farmers to use drought resistant crop varieties.

“For the pocket areas affected by food insecurity, the Regional Councils with the assistance of traditional leaders (village headmen) are advised to continue monitoring the situation and respond accordingly,” says the ministry.

Kelvin Chiringa

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