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Slight improvement in crop harvest expected

The department of Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU)in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural development recently released its latest crop prospects and food security situation report.
The report emanates from its first crop assessment mission in the six communal crop producing regions as from 3 to 28 February this year.
The main purpose of this mission, conducted in collaboration with the Meteorological Service of Namibia, under Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, Regional Councils and Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services, was to assess crops condition in the major communal crop-growing regions of the country and provide early warning report on geographic locations of agronomic anomalies, the effects of floods, droughts, and other significant events. According to the report, rainfall performance for the 2013/2014 rain season showed mixed performance with above normal rainfall confined in the north east, central and some parts in the south. Elsewhere, the cumulative performance of the season depicts near normal to below normal rainfall.
In contrast, the north central regions reported poor rainfall performance, which according to farmers have been erratic and insufficient in the first half of the season with serious prolonged dry spells in January and mostly February, affecting both crop production and livestock production.

However, heavier falls relative to normal were experienced as from end of February and most of March this year.
The report also reviewed that provisional crop estimates indicated a slight improvement in the expected harvest; better than last season, but still below average. The outlook indicated that, all communal crop producing regions are expecting below average harvest, following poor rainfall performance coupled with damages by American Boll-worms.
Meanwhile, the national cereal production is reported to be provisionally fore-cast at 122,390 tons, reflecting an increase of 50% higher than last season’s harvest but yet 2% below average. Much of this improvement comes from the commercial areas where most of the production is under irrigation.
The food security situation is also reported to have been weakened and fragile in the regions as hunger season reached its peak, according to the report. Also most households interviewed indicated that, their last season’s poor harvest only lasted until July and August last year and they are currently dependent on the market as well as drought relief food assistance.
In most regions, livestock conditions were reviewed to have improved from poor to good, except in Kunene Region and some areas in !Karas Region where the situation is reported to have ranged between poor and fair. At the time of this assessment, no major livestock disease outbreaks were reported.

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