· Good rains received in December and early January significantly reduced earlier rainfall deficits experienced in the central parts of the region. Although much later than normal, rains were finally received in southern Malawi, parts of eastern Zambia, and central/northern Mozambique, thus enabling the planting of crops. Poor rainfall continues to negatively affect drought-stricken parts of southwestern Angola.
· The delay in the onset of rains in eastern Zambia, southern Malawi, and northern/central Mozambique has resulted in a reduced window for crops to grow to maturity. Unless the season extends for longer than usual, crops may not be able to reach maturity. It will also be important for these areas to receive consistent rains with limited dry spells, due to the shortened crop growing window. The exception is southern Malawi, which is expected to be minimally impacted by the late start of season due to the short-season crop varieties grown there.
· The International Red Locust Control organization (IRLCO) reported a widespread armyworm outbreak in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe that inflicted severe damage to crops. Necessitating replanting in some areas. Currently the situation is under control following pest control measures applied by affected farmers with assistance from Ministries of agriculture.
· Southeastern Botswana and central parts of South Africa received below normal rainfall amounts, accumulated over the October to December 2013 period. Additionally, rainfall between December 21 and January 10 was generally poor. As a result of the short term water deficits, water balance models are estimating poor soil moisture conditions in some of these areas. Satellite-based vegetation images also show below normal vegetation conditions prevailing in these areas. Rains will be needed soon to avert a deterioration of crop conditions. FEWS NET Monitor , Jan 24 2014.
· The SADC Climate Services Centre’s updated forecast (Jan 2014), states that for the period January to March 2014, normal to abovenormal rainfall conditions will prevail in nearly all parts of the region except for the western and northern parts and normal to below normal rainfall is expected during the second half of the rainfall season .