Angola + 9 more

SADC Food Security Program Agromet Update 11-20 Apr 2002

Late season rains bring some relief to drought affected areas

Reduced rainfall activity in north-eastern parts of the SADC region

Frost damages crops in Lesoth

Climate scientists study possibility of an El Niño event during 2002/2003 season

Dekadal Rainfall Performance

Despite the imminent end of the rainy season in the southern parts of the region, significant falls brought some relief to the drought affected areas of Zambia, Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and Swaziland. High rainfall continued to be recorded in parts the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tanzania, western Zambia and South Africa. Low rainfall and dry conditions were experienced in eastern Zambia, most of Botswana, Namibia, parts of Malawi, half of South Africa and northern Mozambique (figure 1). Reports indicate that crops are in their maturity stages in most parts of the region, and harvesting is already underway in some areas. The FAO/WFP/SADC crop assessments currently taking place in 7 countries (Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Angola and Zambia) will confirm harvest forecasts and quantify food requirements for the affected countries.

Figure 1. Cold Cloud Duration Imagery for the period 11-20 April 2002

Signals point to an El Niño event threatening food security recovery in the region

The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) in the United States, issues monthly summaries about the current state of ENSO, and the consensus of models that forecast ENSO developments for the coming 6 or more months. Current observations indicate near-neutral ENSO conditions, although sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are currently slightly above average over much of the tropical Pacific, but showing movement toward warmer conditions. Above average sea surface temperatures continue in the central tropical Pacific, and have now also appeared in the far eastern tropical Pacific.

Statistical evidence shows that ENSO can account at most for about 50% of the inter-annual rainfall variance in Eastern and Southern Africa, however, many of the more extreme anomalies, such as severe droughts, flooding and hurricanes, have strong tele-connections to ENSO events. Forecast models presently suggest that if an El Niño does develop in the coming months it is likely that it would not be among the very strongest of El Niños. If an El Niño should develop, past events suggest it would continue for at least the remainder of the year and likely through March of 2003. The RRSU and the DMC are constantly monitoring the situation. The two institutions will be represented at an international workshop on El Niño information at the end of April 2002.

ANGOLA: High rainfall persists

The Cold Cloud Duration image (figure 1) shows most parts of the country having received high amounts of rainfall. Dry conditions, however, were experienced in the southern and the lower coastal areas of the country. It is anticipated that crops are now probably maturing and being harvested. However, there are reports of poor performance of crops in the country. Crop assessments will commence in May.

BOTSWANA: Drought impacts continue on crops

The country continued to experience dry conditions in most parts diminishing all hopes of recovery in the staple food crops. No significant rainfall was recorded during the dekad under discussion (figure 1). This has continued to have devastating effects on the crop performance and pastures.

DRC: High rainfall continues

The Cold Cloud Duration image (figure 1) indicates high rainfall across the country. The DRC has consistently received very high rainfall during the growing season. This may result in reduced yield due to unfavourable weather conditions during the maturity stages of the crop.

LESOTHO: Frost damages crops

Maize crops have sustained considerable damage due to frost over large parts of the country. Crop condition ranges from fair to good. Due to the frost damage, crop production for this cropping season will be drastically reduced.

MALAWI: Light rainfall experienced

Light rainfall was received in most parts of the country. However, in some areas prolonged rains are hampering harvesting and drying of matured crops particularly maize. Prolonged rains are expected to contribute to increased field loses in some parts of the country this season.

MOZAMBIQUE: Northern records low rainfall

During the current dekad, the northern parts of Mozambique covering Niassa, Cabo Delagado, Nampula and Zambezia experienced low to dry conditions. The southern and central parts of the country experienced some rainfall. However, reports indicate that the drought in southern and central Mozambique has wiped out 56,150 hectares of crops this season. FAO/WFP/SADC Crop assessment mission is in progress.

NAMIBIA: Dry conditions experienced

Dry conditions were experienced during the dekad in most parts of the country. The main agricultural areas of Kavango and Caprivi, which have not experienced consistent rainfall this season, were dry causing concern to the farmers.

SOUTH AFRICA: Low rainfall received

Low rainfall was received over most parts of the country during the dekad. Rainfall was concentrated in the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country. According to the National Crop Estimate Committee (NCEC), the country expects the yield to increase by 24% from last season’s figures.

SWAZILAND: Low rainfall continues

Low rainfall was received during the dekad. The moisture stress which the maize crop suffered earlier in the season, especially in the Lowveld and dry Middleveld, will definitely affect the yields. Late planted maize may also be affected by dry conditions. It is anticipated that the final maize production may be much lower than average.

TANZANIA: Low to High rainfall received

Both unimodal and bimodal rainfall areas received substantial amounts of rainfall. However, the central parts of the country which are mainly unimodal recorded low rainfall. The high rainfall in the Lake Victoria area may disrupt harvesting activities and increase crop losses. In general, across the country, field crops show prospects of good yields especially in paddy production and high-ground maize which is in the maturity stages.

ZAMBIA: Widespread rainfall experienced

There was unexpected widespread rainfall over most parts of the country during the second dekad of April 2002. This destroyed some crops which are still standing and those that were harvested but not properly stored. In the areas where there was no much rainfall, crops have reached full maturing stage and harvesting is going on well. However, the southern parts of the country continue to be dry.

ZIMBABWE: Light rains bring some relief

Almost the country entire country received some rainfall during the dekad. However, this will not have any significant impact on the crops as the bulk of the crop is already a complete write-off, especially in Matebeleland South and Masvingo provinces due to the drought. Yield reduction is expected to range from 60-100% in most districts of Mashonaland West, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces.