Reference Date: 17-October-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Weather forecasts point to higher likelihood of normal rains during 2016/17 cropping season, following two consecutive drought-affected seasons
Cereal production in 2016 estimated to have increased slightly, but still remains well below average
Cereal prices significantly higher than previous year, but declining South African prices have eased inflationary pressure
Food security conditions worsened due to earlier‑than‑normal depletion of household stocks, higher cereal prices and poor agricultural output
Early outlook points to normal rains for 2016/17 cropping season
Planting of the 2017 cereal crops, mainly maize and millet, is expected to commence in December and continue into January. Weather forecasts currently point to a higher likelihood of normal rainfall across much of the country until March 2017. Following two consecutive agricultural seasons affected by severe dryness, current indications point to a more favourable cropping season in 2016/17.
Cereal production up in 2016, but still well below average
Cereal production in 2016 is estimated to have increased by 18 percent compared to the drought‑reduced output of 2015. However, at the current level, the national total cereal output is still 29 percent below the previous five-year average. This year’s increase mainly results from a higher millet output and a larger harvest from the irrigated maize crop, derived from the commercial sector. In the communal sector, production of maize is estimated to have declined by 16 percent, and is over two‑thirds below the average. Severely suppressed seasonal rains, on account of the 2015/16 El Niño episode, was the main driver behind the poor agricultural performance in 2016 in the communal sector, and particularly affected the regions of Oshana and Zambezi in the north.
Pastures were also negatively affected by the prolonged dryness, adversely impacting on livestock body conditions and resulting in some losses in Kunene and Erongo regions. Reflecting the impact of the drought as well as increased demand from South Africa, sales of cattle increased on a yearly basis during the second quarter of 2016. In addition, the recent signing of a beef export agreement between the US Department of Agriculture and Meatco, a Namibian meat corporation, will make it the first African country eligible to export raw beef to the United States of America. The agreement is expected to boost production in the livestock sector.
Drought impact sustains higher prices
The impact of the regional drought and the reduced domestic harvests in 2015 and 2016 has put sustained upward pressure on food prices, resulting in increasing maize meal prices over the last two years; prices in August 2016 were up to 20 percent higher than their year earlier values. However, the recent decline in grain prices in South Africa, the main source of imports that satisfies the bulk of Namibia’s consumption requirements, has eased import costs and limited inflationary pressure. Prices of sorghum and millet are also well above their values of the preceding year.
The annual inflation rate increased to 6.8 percent in August, up from the 3.4 percent registered in the corresponding month last year, with the major drivers being food items. The weaker Namibian dollar (NAD) has also applied added pressure to costs of imports from outside of the region (as the NAD is pegged to the South African rand).
Food security conditions worsen in 2016
As a result of a second successive poor agricultural performance in 2016, the number of persons requiring food assistance is estimated at 595 398, up slightly from the previous year’s estimate. While the below average harvest has adversely impacted food availability, the high cereal prices are also worsening access and also resulting in a deterioration of terms of trade for livestock-based households that is further exacerbated by the poor livestock conditions. The Government is planning to assist all affected persons.