Food security continues to weaken

Household food security continues to weaken as the recent main crop harvest failed to provide the much-needed improvement to the deteriorating overall food security situation.

According to the Namibia early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU) households have reported this season’s drought as more severe than the 2012/2013 drought as many farmers only received a very small or no harvest at all. “The recent harvest only provided a short-lived relief to most households and this improvement is expected to last at most to the end of August this year”, reports the NEWFIU.
Team leader Matheus Ndjodhi of the Statistic and Business Information Subdivision in the Directorate of Planning and Business Development of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, said in a good season, the household food security situation improves as from March when the green harvest such as green maize, cow peas, squash and other crops become available and ready for consumption until the main harvest. However, farmers have indicated that the availability of these crops were very limited especially in the north central regions and communal crop growing areas of Omaheke, Kunene and Otjozondjupa regions.
“A majority of the farmers are currently dependent on market purchases to supplement their poor harvest in order to prolong its availability. Farmers and the Regional Council Officials are therefore requesting the government to provide them with drought relief food and water for both human and livestock consumption”, said Ndjodhi.
The Early Warning Unit also stated that the crop estimates indicated extremely poor harvests in all the dryland crop producing regions. Both the commercial and communal harvests are below average and substantially lower than the previous season’s harvest. “Crop production under rain-fed conditions noted poor crop germination especially those planted from the middle of December to February this season. Much of the crops dried up due to severe and prolonged dry spells coupled with high temperatures.
“In the Kunene region, crops germinated following some showers received in December but had wilted between January and February due to lack of rainfall. The Omaheke and Otjozondupa regions reported that there was good crop germination following some good showers in November [2014] but also wilted during the January and February period owing to lack of rainfall”, said the unit.
It was further reported that even if rainfall conditions had improved for the reminder of the season, it was too late for the crop to be revived hence the very poor to zero main harvest. Even Namibia’s wettest region, the Zambezi, is reported to be experiencing a poor crop harvest which is below average and lower than last season’s harvest. Crop prospects in the region showed a reduced harvest with maize which dropped by 76% below average and 71% lower than last season’s harvest. Pearl millet is down by 82% of the average and 73% lower than the last season’s production.
Sorghum production is estimated to have dropped by 44% below average and 53% less than last season’s harvest. Poor crop harvest was also reported in non-cereal crops such as legumes, melons and squash.