SADC Faces Severe Drought

Gaborone – Southern Africa faces the worst drought ever following reports that most countries in the region have suffered total crop failure.
Reports indicate that the ploughing season was characterised by below normal rainfall, long dry spells and high temperatures, which have had adverse an impact on agricultural production, rangeland and surface water catchment throughout the region.
The spokesperson in the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture, Jeffrey Pheko, recently said the ministry has observed that the southern part of Botswana was one of the worst affected areas.
“We have been made aware that there is crop failure in that region of the country this year.
“My advice to farmers is that if they notice that the crops have wilted they should cut them down to feed their cattle,” he said.
“After government assessed the condition, the Ministry of Agriculture went there to assist famers with more tractors for cultivation and there was also subsidies for cattle feed.
“You should also note that every season the government undertakes a drought assessment,” he said.
The Ministry of Local Government has announced that a task team made up of two groups, one covering districts on the western and the other the eastern parts of the country would tour the country from April 15 to May 9, 2013.
The task team’s assignment is to establish deficiencies in the season’s rainfall and its extent.
The team will also establish the impact of the rainfall amounts and distribution specifically on plant growth and water sources as well as on rural incomes and human livelihoods.
It will further seek to verify whether the distribution of rainfall has, or is likely to, severely affect plant growth, water supplies, and ultimately human livelihoods and food security in general.
Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku has been quoted saying the whole of Namibia is affected, adding that the government is busy with a final assessment. In the meantime, drought relief food will be distributed to the worst affected areas.
Hausiku noted that Cabinet, during its last session, reviewed the drought and took some decisions to be implemented immediately, while a comprehensive drought relief programme would be implemented within the next two to three weeks once the assessment is completed to address the disaster.
“It is critical for us to obtain information on the number of affected people and where they live, the status of water availability as well as the condition of livestock, crop production and grazing,” said Hausiku. Reports also indicate that South Africa, the region’s biggest maize producer, reduced its harvest forecast by 4.9 percent because of lack of rain in some of the main growing regions, the Crop Estimates Committee said.
The nation might reap 11.8 million metric tons of maize this season, Marda Scheepers, spokesperson for the committee is quoted as saying.
That is more than the median estimate of 11.6 million tonnes by seven analysts in a Bloomberg survey and is lower than the 12.4 million-tonne prediction made by the committee last month.
“The expected size of the total crop has been decreased mainly as a result of dry conditions in the Free State and North West provinces, which had a negative impact on the expected crop,” Scheepers said.
South African media also say that the worst drought since 1983 has struck north-eastern Limpopo, killing more than 2 000 head of cattle and threatening to push the price of red meat to unprecedented levels.
The Department of Water Affairs’ Limpopo director Alson Matukane, and the spokesperson for the Limpopo Department of Agriculture, Kenny Mathivha, are reported to have confirmed the drought and its devastating impact.

April 2013
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