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Mixed prospects for the 2007 cereal crops in Southern Africa
Southern Africa 2006/07 Mid-Season Update
January 2007
FAO/GIEWS

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges the FAO/GIEWS Global Watch Update as the source of this document: www.fao.org/giews/english/index.htm


As the 2006/07 agricultural season in Southern Africa nears the mid–point, heavy rains were reported through much of the region in the third dekad of December and beginning of January, causing localized floods in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar. In October and November favorable rains were received in main crop growing areas of south-western Angola, northern Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. However, the other areas of the region, especially the northern parts, remained generally dry, which delayed planting operations. Cumulative rainfall difference from the average of past eight years for the first three months of the season (October-December), shows normal to above normal precipitation through the western and southern parts of the region and northern areas of Madagascar but below normal in the northern and eastern part of the region, including northern Angola, northern and central Mozambique, areas of Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as central and southeastern areas of Madagascar (see Figure 1-a.). The vegetative growth at the first dekad of January 2007, as indicated by the NDVI difference from the long term average in Figure 1-b, showing also the main maize growing areas in the region, reflects similar but more pronounced west-east and north-south differences in the growing season. Moreover, in southern areas, in spite of generally satisfactory rains during the season, many localized areas have experienced an erratic precipitation including significant dry spells. In addition, the forecast for the second half of the season points to a drier than normal climatology primarily due to the El-Nino conditions. Thus the regional outlook for the 2007 main season cereal harvest at this stage is mixed with early prospects unfavorable in Zambia, Mozambique and Madagascar, and favorable in other countries.


At the regional level, the area planted to the main maize crop is estimated to have increased. This mainly reflects higher plantings in South Africa, where farmer’s planting intentions survey indicates that the maize area has expanded from last year’s reduced level by about 1.2 million hectares to some 2.8 million hectares, encouraged by current high prices. Overall, input availability at planting time was normal in most countries. Large input subsidy schemes were implemented in Zambia and Malawi, enabling farmers to use quality seed and fertilizer. This is expected to have a significant positive effect on total maize harvest later this year. By contrast, in Zimbabwe, continuous shortages and/or high prices of key inputs such as fertilizer, fuel, draft animal power and spare parts are expected to result in relatively low yields, as in previous years. In Lesotho and in several farming districts in Eastern Cape and Free State in South Africa, an outbreak of Brown Locust affected maize and other crops in December. Aerial spraying to combat the large swarms was undertaken in both countries. In Mozambique, an outbreak of Trypanosomiasis1 has reportedly affected cattle in the Central Region of the country, including Manica, Sofala, Zambezia and Tete Provinces2.

Footnotes:
  1. A parasitic disease caused by tsetse fly.
  2. Further information on specific countries can be found on the GIEWS Workstation at: www.fao.org/giews/workstation/page.jspx

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