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Food security weakens at household level

Household food security continues to weaken as the current consumption period progresses, according to the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU). Most households interviewed revealed that last season’s harvest is diminishing and is currently being supplemented with market purchases to prolong its availability, NEWFIU said.

Many farmers have reported that there will be no significant improvement to household food security this season due to poor rainfall. “In a normal situation household food security starts to improve around March when the green harvests such as maize, cow peas, and squash become available and ready for consumption until the main harvest,” said NEWFIU.
Farmers have however indicated that the availability of such crops will soon be limited especially in the north central regions and communal crop growing areas of the Omaheke, Kunene and Otjozondjupa regions. Some households have indicated that they are still dependent on own production for food and will remain so until the end of this month.
Contrary to the overall picture in the northern regions, household food security in the Zambezi region remained stable since November last year where the situation was reported to be satisfactory with most households either dependent on own harvest or the market using funds from sales of last season’s production for food access.
However, farmers in the Zambezi region are also expecting a below average crop harvest following erratic rainfall, even in Namibia’s wettest region. The region noted a late start of the 2014/2015 rainfall season.
According to farmers surveyed, productive rainfall was only received by the end of November last year instead of the normal start in mid-October. Since then, rainfall has been poor and was only seen in the form of sporadic and insufficient showers with frequent dry spells in December, January and February.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry the planted area was reduced significantly due to dry spells and at the time of assessment most farmers were only able to cover 73% of their crop fields which is 6% less than in the same period last season. Preliminary crop assessments suggest a reduced harvest. Pearl millet is expected to decrease by more than 36% of the average and 3% lower than last season’s production. Moreover, sorghum production is estimated to drop by 6% below average and 22% less than last season’s harvest.
Harvest prospects for non-cereal crops such as legumes (cow peas, bambara nuts and ground nuts), melons and squash are also reported to be poor as compared to last year.

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