Poor rainfall performance threatens Namibia's agriculture sector

March 14, 2023

Namibia's agriculture sector is facing significant risks of limited water supply and poor pasture conditions due to impending drought, the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) has warned.

The agro-focused financial institution's warning is based on the rainfall performance since the start of the season which could negatively impact food security, agriculture, rangeland rehabilitation, and livestock production. 

According to Agribank's Monthly Market Watch for February 2023, farmers should build climate resilience in farming activities to reduce income losses from potential drought. Additionally, delayed planting in areas where crop production is largely under rain-fed and dry conditions poses major concerns, negatively impacting crop yields and threatening food security.

The blended concerns of erratic rainfall and rising food inflation could worsen consumers' affordability, said Agribank.

This comes as the Integrated food security Phase Classification’s (IPC) acute food insecurity report for Namibia states that the food security situation is projected to worsen between January and March 2023, corresponding to the last and second half of Namibia’s lean season, with 390,000 people forecasted to experience high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above).

The Kavango East, Kavango West, Kunene, Omaheke, Oshikoto, and Otjozondjupa regions have the majority of people in food crisis. The tight labour market, high food, and fuel have further derailed food security, the bank grieved.

"Clearly, the Agriculture sector is not out of the woods yet and is faced with enormous headwinds. With the ongoing floods, contingency action plans for areas affected by poor rainfall performance, cyclones, and flooding should be put in place by government and other interested entities," said the report. 

The Bank further encouraged farmers and potential off-takers to start preparing for postharvest care and marketing of crops to realise maximum benefit from the 2023 harvest. 

Meanwhile, the seasonal climate outlook for 2022-23 indicated normal to above-normal rainfall for most parts of the country, giving hope to farmers and the agriculture sector at large.

However, the rainfall performance in February 2023 was recorded as poor in most parts of the country, with few exceptions.

"Cumulative rains between the periods October 2022 to February 2023 indicate below-normal rainfall across most parts of the country. This is mainly due to long dry spells experienced reflecting a departure from seasonal outlook," said the report. The bank highlighted that this suggests that normal to above-normal rainfall projections may not hold for the remainder of the rainy season from March to April 2023. 

The bank called for a contingency plan to address the potential threat to food security, agriculture, rangeland rehabilitation, and livestock production.

"It is critical that the government and other stakeholders come up with measures to ensure that the agriculture sector remains resilient and that food security is not compromised," said the bank.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 March 2023 21:27