Reference Date: 25-April-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Rainfall deficits expected to result in below average cereal production in 2013
Increased cereal imports registered in the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March)
Poor domestic production in 2013 expected to aggravate food insecurity in subsistence sector
Reduced cereal production expected in 2013
Harvesting of the 2013 cereal crop is currently underway. The 2012/13 cropping season (October/June) was largely characterized by prolonged period of below average rains, punctured by intense rainfall in January that caused localised flooding and minor damage to the agriculture sector. Despite some relief from the abundant rains at the start of 2013, significant seasonal water deficits developed as the season progressed, adversely impacting crop growth in the main agricultural areas in eastern and southern parts. In addition to the unfavourable weather conditions, an outbreak of armyworms in late 2012, mainly concentrated in south-eastern areas of the country, infested approximately 4 500 hectares of cropped land; representing about 3 percent of average cropped area to cereals.
Given the overall poor cropping conditions, current indications point to a cereal output similar to last year’s drought affected harvest, which was below the short-term average. A Government crop and food security assessment mission is currently underway to ascertain the impact of the rainfall deficits on crop production and livelihoods.
For the subsequent 2013/14 cropping season the Government plans to increase the support package to farmers through the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD). Farmers are set to receive BWP 800 (USD 97) per hectare, 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. The expansion of the support programme depends on farmers ploughing and row planting, in order to contribute to efforts of improved cropping methods.
Food prices rise steadily
The national annual inflation rate remained comparatively stable between the last quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013, averaging at about 7.4 percent over the six months. Similarly, the food component of the CPI exhibited steady year-on-year increases over the same period.
Cereal imports rise following lower 2012 cereal production
Following the reduced 2012 domestic harvest, maize imports for the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March) reached nearly 200 000 tonnes, about 16 percent above the 172 000 tonnes imported in the previous marketing year. In 2013/14, cereal import requirements are estimated at a similar level of last year, given the expectation of a successive poor cereal harvest.
Increased food insecurity expected in 2013/14 following the expected successive poor cereal production
Although domestic production covers less than 20 percent of Botswana’s consumption requirements, the poor production outlook in the subsistence sector is expected to lead to a deterioration of food insecurity conditions later in 2013. In addition, the recent increase in cereal and bread prices, by approximately 7 percent in March compared to last year, is expected to negatively impact on vulnerable households. The release of the crop and food security assessment report in the next months is expected to provide more detailed information on the current situation and needed interventions.