June 8, 2004

National food supply situation improving, says Report

Namibia's national food supply situation is expected to improve considerably, despite excessive rains that caused the widespread water-logging of some crop fields as well as damage to early maturing millet. The latest bulletin of the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information System (Newfis) forecasts the total production of coarse grain at 124.000 tonnes during the 2003/04 season - a 36 per cent increase from the previous season. The bulletin also implied that the overall national food supply was still expected to improve - particularly in Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikoto and commercial crop growing areas. "Those regions are expected to be generally self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs and will even generate higher marketable surpluses of millet compared to the previous marketing year," the report says. The estimated cereal production was put at 167.500 tons, made up of 96.200 tons of millet/sorghum; 49.600 tons of white maize; and 21.700 tons of wheat. National cereal food use has been provisionally calculated at 317.700 tonnes, which means 150.200 tonnes will have to be imported to plug the deficit.

Assuming a projected national population figure of 2,02 million and an average per capita cereal consumption of 125 kg, the national cereal food use was provisionally calculated at 317 700 tons. According to the bulletin, commercial farmers have already indicated that they plan to import 90.000 tonnes, comprised of 50.000 tonnes of wheat and 40.000 tonnes of white maize. "Under normal circumstances, the shortfall has to be fully covered through commercial imports during the course of the year," Newfis says. It also notes that the rainfall season in most parts of crop growing regions was characterised by above average levels of precipitation, particularly during the second half of the rainy season (January to March). "Excessive rains during that period caused widespread water logging of some crop fields as well as damage to the early maturing millet varieties. The most affected regions are Kavango and Oshana. Flooding in the eastern Caprivi also washed away or submerged an estimated 4.500 hectares of crop fields around the time this mission was undertaken". (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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