Relief food for the needy
By Deon Schlechter
WINDHOEK - Food aid for vulnerable households might be considered from December until the affected households are able to regain their normal livelihoods, the Early Warning and Food Security June Report has recommended.
It further recommends reinforcement of food/cash-for-work programmes in areas affected by food insecurity to target households without access to land for cultivation and livestock in order to provide them with a temporary safety net.
In addition, these activities could be broadened to include less labour-intensive activities such as gardening, fruit tree planting and animal husbandry and extended to include the rest of the country.
The production activities would improve access to micro-nutrient rich fruits, which could greatly benefit the rural poor and HIV-infected people
The Directorate of Research and Training as well as Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services are advised to consider the possibility of producing improved seeds under irrigation for the next cropping season.
In areas affected by poor grazing conditions, farmers should be advised to take the necessary precautionary measures such as destocking while livestock are in good condition to avoid unnecessary livestock losses.
The report states the 2013/2014 rainfall season showed that most parts of the country received normal to above normal rainfall, which is consistent with the rainfall outlook for this season.
However, this analysis in the Early Warning and Food Security Report for June does not take into account how the rainfall was distributed and weather related anomalies.
In contrast, the north central regions reported below average and poor rainfall performance, which according to farmers has been sporadic, erratic and insufficient in the first half of the season with serious prolonged dry spells in January, and most of February thereby affecting both crop production and pasture establishment. Crop estimates showed an improvement in the 2013/2014 harvest, better than last season but still below average for the communal producing areas while commercial areas recorded a bumper harvest.
An analysis of the 2013/2014 crop harvest estimates indicates that most of the communal crop producing regions recorded a better crop harvest this year, which is significantly higher than last season but still below the average harvest.
The below average harvest is mainly due to a general poor rainfall performance coupled with bollworms.
National cereal aggregate production is finally forecasted at 136 700 tonnes, reflecting an increase of 68 percent higher than last season’s harvest, and 9 percent above the average production.
Much of this improvement came from the commercial areas where a bumper harvest was reported. Most parts of the country reported good grazing conditions except the north-central and north-western parts of the country where fair to poor grazing conditions are reported following poor rainfall performance in these areas.
At the time of this assessment, no major livestock disease outbreaks were reported.
The households’ food security situation is reported to have improved following a recent main harvest since the beginning this May.
However, this improvement, according to farmers, is still below average and the current harvest is expected to last between this coming December and the main harvest next May.