The Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have registered a good harvest in this year ploughing season amid fears among pundits that climate change effects such as flooding, heavy rains and outbreak of army could pose a threat to crop production in Southern Africa.
Heavy rains, flooding accompanied by the outbreak of army worm in Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia was feared that it could dash farmers’ hopes about good harvest in this year ploughing season.
SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate predictions on good harvest in SADC is supported by the recent Food and Agriculture
Organization of United Nations recent Biannual Report on Global Food Markets.
SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate, Acting Director Bentry Chaura indicated that a number of counties in the region had a good harvest compared to the last two seasons despite heavy rains, flooding and the outbreak of the army worm in most of the SADC states.
Chaura stated that though there were heavy rains which resulted in flooding in some of the SADC states the harvest surpassed the ploughing season for the past two years.
Chaura stated that indications are that a number of countries had a good harvest.
‘We are expecting surplus in the region as result of good rains. Countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia had good harvest leading to increase in food production in the region,’ added Chaura.
He said that South Africa has already recorded already passed the estimated production of cereals such as Maize.
Chaura indicated that the surplus means that most of the countries in the region will not be importing cereal and grain as compared to the last two ploughing seasons which were characterized by a dry spell.
Chaura explained that farmers also cultivated enough hectares despite that they were having challenges of unpredicted weather conditions.
Chaura indicated that the heavy rains and floods was a relief to the region which was seriously affected by drought that plunged SADC countries in the past two years which prompted humanitarian appeal from international corporate partners.
He indicated that countries should come up with mitigation measures that will combat effects of global climate change.
He explained that effects of climate change remain a challenge in most of Southern Africa countries.
“It is evident that in the past ten years challenges that come as result of climate change have been frequent. We need to improve resilience because we are going to have a problem after problem as it is evident that after drought we are now faced with heavy rainfall and flooding challenges,” added Chaura.
He said that countries can produce enough food if there are measures put in place to come up with mitigation efforts towards climate change effects.
Chaura is optimistic that most of SADC countries will not be forced to import cereal from Europe as it had happened in the past. However the recent released Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations Biannual Report on Global Food Markets also cast gloomy picture on global supplies of coarse grains in 2017 and 2018 ploughing season.
According to FAO’s latest report forecast the world coarse grains production in 2017 stands at 1 348 million tonnes, a near-record high and almost par with last year’s peak.
The FAO further indicate that the increase mostly rests on expected rebounds in maize production in South America and Southern Africa. The report further stated that following the steep decline in the 2016 production due to severe dry conditions, South Africa’s 2017 maize output is forecast to rebound sharply to a record high of 16.4 million tonnes, nearly double the level of the previous year.
It also indicated that the expected increase reflects favourable weather that is forecast to significantly boost yields, while an anticipated increase in the area harvested should also raise production levels.
The report also noted that the production in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe also benefited from the favourable weather conditions, with output foreseen to increase in all three countries, particularly in Zambia which is expected to harvest a record crop.
Meanwhile BAMB Spokesperson, Kushatha Modiakgotla was optimistic that they are expecting a bumper harvest this year.
Modiakgotla stated that BAMB has engaged three hundred and fifty famers who are registered for contract farming.