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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 02-May-2019


  1. Cereal production in 2019 forecast to decline sharply on account of severe rainfall deficits

  2. Prices of food products higher on yearly basis as of March 2019

  3. Food security conditions of communal farming households expected to worsen significantly due to impact of drought on agricultural production

Dry weather conditions to drive down cereal production in 2019

Harvesting of the 2019 main season cereal crops will begin in June and a significant decline in cereal production is forecast in 2019. The unfavourable production prospects reflect substantial rainfall deficits experienced since the start of the cropping season in November 2018. In two of the main cereal-producing regions, Omusati and Oshikoto, cumulative rainfall between November 2018 and March 2019 was over two-thirds below the average. Pertinently, in addition to having a temporally erratic distribution that included multiple dekads of no precipitation, the cumulative rainfall was insufficient to satisfy crop water requirements that would have enabled the maize crop to attain near-average yields.

Based on a recently conducted Government crop assessment, the 2019 cereal production is forecast at 72 000 tonnes, 53 percent below the previous year and 35 percent down compared to preceding five-year average.

The unfavourable weather conditions have also adversely impacted grazing resources, particularly pastures in southern and northwestern parts that experienced dry weather conditions also in the previous season. Livestock body conditions throughout most of the country have deteriorated and mortality rates are reported to be high.

Imports of cereals to rise to bridge larger domestic shortfall

In consideration of the expected decline in cereal production, cereal imports in the 2019/20 marketing year (May/April) are forecast to rise to an above-average level of 300 000 tonnes, about 40 000 tonnes higher than the estimated volume imported in the previous marketing year. A draw drawn in stocks is also envisaged to help bridge the domestic deficit.

Prices of maize meal generally higher

As of March 2019, average prices of maize meal were slightly higher on a yearly basis, mostly due to elevated prices in South Africa, the main source of imported cereals, and expectations of a reduced cereal output in 2019. The annual food inflation rate, a sub-component of the national consumer price index, was estimated at 6 percent in March 2019, compared to a rate of 3 percent registered a year earlier.

Food security conditions expected to worsen

In consideration of the expected decrease in agricultural production in 2019, food security conditions are likely to worsen significantly for communal farming households, whose own cereal production is a critical source of food consumption. The most affected areas are foreseen in regions of Hardap, Erongo, Karas, Kunene, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa that experienced drought conditions. The current higher food prices are expected to further impede households’ access to food supplies, particularly as households are likely to increase their dependence on market supplies given the low harvest expectations.

Details on the number of food insecure are expected to be available in June/July, following the Government-led vulnerability assessment.

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