Reference Date: 05-April-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Cereal production in 2016 expected to remain well below average, despite small year‑on‑year increase on account of suppressed seasonal rains related to El Niño
Cereal prices higher than previous year, driven by record high prices in South Africa, sharply reduced 2015 harvest and weaker currency
Food security conditions weaken, due to earlier‑than‑normal depletion of household stocks, higher cereal prices and poor agricultural production prospects in 2016
Crop production in 2016 to increase slightly, but remains well below average
Harvesting of the 2016 cereal crop is expected to commence from May and current forecasts indicate a moderate increase in production from the previous year’s reduced output, assuming average rains for the remainder of the season. However, the 2016 cereal output is still expected to remain well below‑average, reflecting suppressed and poorly‑distributed (temporally) seasonal rains over most cropped areas, associated with the current El Niño episode. This year’s small increase mainly stems from production gains for millet and maize, offsetting an expected decrease for sorghum. Most regions are expecting improved harvests; however, acutely unfavourable conditions in the Zambezi and Oshana regions resulted in reduced plantings and expected lower yields, with production set to decline compared to the 2015 harvest.
Overall, cereal production in 2016 is provisionally forecast at 75 000 tonnes, based on a Government‑led assessment in February, putting this year’s crop at 33 percent below the five‑year average, but up 10 percent from the drought‑affected harvest in 2015.
Pastures are reportedly in a slightly better condition than the previous year, although the poor seasonal rains hindered full pasture re‑growth and limited water availability, adversely impacting livestock body conditions.
Prices of cereals higher, due largely to regional drought
Food prices increased in 2015 and 2016, mainly as a result of the impact of the regional drought and the low domestic output in 2015. With most of the national maize requirement satisfied by imports, this year’s drought drove‑up South African (the country’s main trading partner) maize prices to record highs, resulting in strong inflationary pressure. In response, Namib Mills, the main national grain miller, announced two separate price increases for their food products in January and February 2016.
The depreciation of the 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 continue to weaken
Food security conditions have weakened, with most households having already depleted their stocks from last year’s harvest and have become dependent on market supplies and the Government’s Drought Relief Food Programme, which ended in March 2016. Although the situation is expected to improve temporarily with the new supplies from the 2016 harvest, a second successive well below‑average cereal output is expected to continue to constrain the food security situation in 2016/17.