Reference Date: 21-November-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Dry conditions prevailed at the start of the 2013/14 cropping season, but forecasts indicate improved rainfall in the following months
Aggregate cereal production in 2013 estimated at a below average level, following poor rains in 2012/13
Food insecurity conditions aggravated in the subsistence sector
Planting of the 2014 cereal crops began under generally dry weather conditions
Land preparation and the bulk of the planting for the 2014 cereal crops, principally sorghum and maize, began in November, and is expected to be finalised before the end of the year. Dry conditions were observed in October and the first half of November, which is likely to delay planting activities. However, rainfall forecasts point to an increased likelihood of average to above average precipitation between January and March 2014, during the main growing period, while eastern areas are expected to receive average to above average rains in December.
The government increased the support package to farmers for the 2013/14 cropping season (October-June) through the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD). Farmers are set to receive a subsidy of BWP 800 (approximately USD 92) per hectare for agricultural inputs, twice the previous level, with a maximum of 16 hectares for subsistence farmers, while emerging and commercial farmers would be supported for up to 150 and 500 hectares respectively, but with a lower subsidy rate. The expansion of the support programme depends on farmers ploughing and row planting, in order to contribute to efforts to improve cropping methods.
Poor rains result in below average 2013 cereal crop
Aggregate cereal production for the 2012/13 cropping season is estimated at about 45 000 tonnes, 17 percent below the previous five-year average. The cropping season was largely characterized by below average rains (the government declared 2013 as a drought year in July) causing significant water deficits and adversely impacting crop growth in the main agricultural areas of the east and south.
Food prices stable, but at higher levels than in 2012
The decline in national annual inflation rate, which began in the first quarter of 2013, continued through October 2013 and at 4.8 percent is below its levels of the same month in 2012. The food component of the CPI has remained comparatively stable in 2013, but recorded a year-on-year increase of 4 percent in October.
Increased rate of monthly maize imports observed in 2013/14
The monthly import rate of maize from South Africa in the 2013/14 marketing year (April/March) has so far averaged at nearly 16 000 tonnes, about 1 000 tonnes more than the previous year. While the total cereal import requirement is similar to last year, the lower prices recorded in South Africa have encouraged the higher import rate during the first half of the current marketing year.
Drought conditions aggravate food security in 2013/14
Although domestic production covers only 10 percent of Botswana’s total consumption requirements, poor production in the subsistence sector and deterioration in livestock conditions have aggravated the food security situation. About 372 000 persons were estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in 2013/14. In response, the government has allocated USD 25.6 million to relief measures, including nutritional support and increasing the number of boreholes. In addition, the reduced dam levels have prompted an extension of water rationing in some locations.