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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 08-December-2016


  1. Planting of 2017 crops is ongoing, under generally favourable rainfall conditions

  2. Cereal production dropped sharply in 2016 for the second consecutive year due to El Niño‑induced drought conditions

  3. Food prices rise moderately in 2016

  4. Impact of drought causes a steep increase in number of food insecure, estimated at over 1 million

Enhanced chance of above-average rainfall conditions for 2017 crops

Planting of the 2017 crops is underway and expected to conclude by early next year. Early seasonal rains were observed in southern parts in mid‑October, with most of the country receiving average to above‑average monthly precipitation volumes in November that improved soil moisture levels and promoted the establishment of early planted crops. The recent rains have also boosted dams levels compared to the corresponding period in 2015.

With weather forecasts pointing to an increased likelihood of normal to above‑normal rainfall for the next three months (December‑February), the early production outlook for the 2017 cereal crop is generally positive and contrasts to the previous year’s drought‑affected season.

Sharp decline in 2016 crop production

As a result of the El Niño‑induced drought conditions that affected the 2015/16 summer cropping season, the 2016 cereal output is estimated at a well below‑average level of about 5 000 tonnes, 44 percent below the already reduced 2015 harvest.

Pastures and water availability for animals were also adversely affected by the prolonged and severe dryness, with livestock mortality averaging about 20 percent in 2015 and 2016.

Moderate increases in food prices

Annual food prices, measured by the food and non-alcoholic beverages sub-index of the national CPI, were about 3 percent up on their year-earlier levels in October 2016. The higher prices are largely reflective of a small year-on-year depreciation of the Botswana Pula against the Rand of South Africa, the country’s main trading partner, with South African imports satisfying over 90 percent of the domestic cereal requirements.

Impact of drought severely stresses food insecurity in 2016

The impact of the drought has resulted in an increased level of food insecurity. According to the Botswana Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s 2016 evaluation conducted earlier in the year, just over 1 million people are estimated to be food insecure in 2016/17.