DROUGHT ERODES 62 PERCENT OF CROP PRODUCTION

 

The report coming after a severe drought inflicted by an Elnino condition which affected most of the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), will make have a sever dent on the pockets of most Namibians who are already struggling to make ends meet because of the ever falling value of the rand which is pegged at one as to one with the local currency.

“Household food security continued to weaken in various parts of the country as most households are reported have depleted their last season’s harvest and now depended on the market and the Government Drought Relief Programme for food access. It was reported that the supply of drought relief food is inadequate when compared to the number of people that food insecure….,”notes the report in part.

The report also notes that, “Pearl Millet showed a significant improvement but 39 percent below average production. The improvement is based on a good crop from germinations in Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango West and Kavango East…

While the situation was rather sever for crop production farmers the assessment report by the Government shows that animal raring farmers because of an improvement grazing pastures in most parts of the country.
 While the commercial area also indicates an improvement of 2% compared to last season’s harvest, it is also quoted at 35% below the average production.

Commenting on the report, Manager for Research and Development at the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) Willie Roux, tells Prime Focus Magazine that, “The drought highly affected food production in the country, which influenced the eventual slaughter price and the fact that producers moved cattle from the veld as the year opened with a drought resulted in low throughput at abattoirs.”

Roux reasons that the drought has had an especially adverse effect on livestock production because these past few months are not dryland crop planting months due to insufficient grazing and the areas most affected are the South; especially South-East as well as the West to the North-West all through to the Kavango regions.

Roux also stressed that nothing can be done to solve drought in the country but rather hope for a rainy season. However, he emphasises that, “The El Nino effect is weakening and the La Nina is taking shape, hence this points to at least a better rainy season but, given the unpredictable climate in the country it is crucial to practice good rangeland management as far as the rainfall allows.”

Corroborating Roux opinion, Agronomic Board of Namibia Chairperson, Sirkka Lileka, says that the prevailing drought has affected many regions differently and the drought situation is too bad compared to last year.

“When you travel to Ruacana you will see that there is only little rain to cater for animals until September or October. Animals are now eating grass roots because there is no rain,” she says.

She also mentions that due to the unavailability of rain, crops have been exposed to the sun and evaporation is high.

“The growth of crops have been affected highly which also caused limited harvest,” she says while explaining that, “for many years maize was used for drought relief but, for now, we don’t even have enough maize to give to the highly affected communities because where do we get the maize from if there is no water?”

Although drought continues to affect many parts of the country, Agribusdev’s Business Analyst, Evaristus Titus, reveals that drought has not affected their operations because strategies have been set before to prepare them for drought.
“We have predicted the drought already, therefore we have increased land space for irrigation projects to increase agronomic production for food security, therefore, from our side we are safe,” Titus says.

Agribusdev have eleven Green Scheme Projects producing crops ranging from rice, wheat grapes, potatoes, onion, bread flower, maize meal, sun flower oil and grains for the national strategic food reserves as well as vegetables for the hubs.
Currently, over 600 000 Namibians have been displaced because of the persistent 3-year drought that has affected both crop and beef production in Namibia.

The state has received donations from other countries such as South Africa who has pledged N$100m worth of food supplies.

Nigeria also made donations to Namibia amounting to 300 metric tons of rice, 700 metric tons of maize grain and 2 metric tons of fish powder.
Currently, government is intending to conduct another crop assessments through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to determine that number of Namibians who would need food assistance.

Last year alone, the Namibia Red Cross Society distributed drought relief to over 11 000 Namibians in six regions.

The Red Cross provides long term food security and livelihood support to communities through community gardens which benefits 100 households and improve nutrition for 500 beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the Disaster Risk Management has revealed plans to spend up to N$500 million on the second phase of the drought relief programme run through the office of the Prime Minister.