Poor rains and cyclones affect agriculture in SADC countries: report

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Southeast Angola, southern Namibia, southern Botswana and much of South Africa received above average seasonal rainfall between January and March 2022.

This is contained in the latest SADC Food Early Warning System report prepared by the SADC FANR Directorate in collaboration with USAID/FEWS Net.

He said Malawi, the eastern half of Zambia, much of northern Mozambique and central and eastern Madagascar received near-average seasonal rainfall totals, despite heavy rains received due to several cyclones affecting some of these regions.

“Seasonal totals in Malawi, the eastern half of Zambia, much of northern Mozambique and central and eastern parts of Madagascar are close to normal despite heavy rainfall received during cyclones in late January to early March,” the report said.

“Heavy rains in early 2022 reduced seasonal rainfall deficits; however, the poor temporal distribution of rainfall has resulted in sub-optimal crop performance in a number of regions including parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Regarding crop conditions, SADC said prolonged drought in February and early March resulted in reduced soil moisture available for crops in southern Mozambique, northern Namibia, northern -eastern South Africa and much of Zimbabwe.

“While the precise impact of drought will depend to some extent on local agricultural management practices, including the use of conservation agriculture techniques, crop variety and type selection, soil management and planting dates, the general observation was that crops in many central areas were negatively affected.

“In southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe, reports indicated that crops in several areas were in shambles, with little or no harvest due to the drying out.”

SADC added that preliminary reports suggest maize crops, which are the predominant crops grown in many affected areas, have been more severely affected than other crops.

“It is likely that many of these regions experienced below average yields. By contrast, the major maize growing areas of South Africa experienced average to above average conditions due to favorable rainfall conditions that persisted for much of the crop growing season.

The SADC report also noted that livestock and pastures despite the prolonged dry spell that affected central parts of the region, vegetation has done relatively well in these areas, based on an analysis of the percentage of average seasonal greenery.

“The vegetation index relative to average conditions for the same period, and over the course of a season, tends to give a good indicator of the total amount of biomass (e.g. pasture material, in areas that are mainly grassland) accumulated, and therefore the amount of pasture available for livestock.

He said most parts of the region had above average pasture except for southern Madagascar where pasture was below average, while in southwestern Angola the northwest Namibia, Malawi, eastern Zambia and northern Mozambique, pasture was slightly to significantly lower. medium.

“In these areas, grazing conditions are likely to have been negatively affected by poor rainfall, particularly in southern Madagascar where conditions are well below average. Cyclone impacts Five tropical storms and cyclones hit and affected several SADC Member States, including Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“Tropical storms and cyclones have brought heavy rains and strong winds, causing extensive flooding and landslides, and leading to deaths, displacements, destruction of infrastructure and flooding of cultivated areas.”

Agricultural impacts in the SADC report included more than 60,000 hectares (ha) of rice flooded twice in eastern Madagascar due to intense tropical cyclones Batsirai and Emnati, with concerns for rice production at the end of the season in Madagascar.

“In Mozambique, it is estimated that more than 220,000 hectares of crops were lost due to the three cyclones and storms that struck during the season,” the SADC report adds.

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