Food Security Early Warning System - Agromet Update, Issue 1: 2019/2020 Agricultural Season (15-11-2019)

Highlights

  • Pasture and water for livestock are in a poor state in some areas due to recurrent droughts

  • Seasonal forecasts indicate enhanced chances of below average seasonal rainfall totals, raising concerns on the backdrop of the severe drought of the 2018/19 season.

  • Most parts of the region received near-normal rainfall through early November

  • Short term forecasts suggest an improvement of rainfall through-mid November in several countries, which may result in a timely onset in some areas.

Regional Summary

Most parts of the region received near-average rainfall between September and early November, according to satellite data (Figure 1). Negative rainfall anomalies were however noted in Lesotho, eastern South Africa, parts of Zambia, eastern DRC, parts of Madagascar, and western Tanzania. In most areas, early season rains received in October and early November typically facilitate agricultural land preparation and planting. Below average early-season rains experienced this year in Lesotho and parts of South Africa are likely to delay land preparation and planting in some areas. Northern parts of the region received above average rains accumulated from September to early November, particularly Angola, much of DRC and eastern Tanzania.

Planting rains are generally received in November in most southern and central parts of the region. The exception to this is parts of South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, and central Madagascar where seasonal rains typically start in October. Figure 2 shows areas where rains were sufficient to commence planting, and the dekad in which the rains were received. In some of the areas that received good rains in late October and early November, such as parts of Angola, central Madagascar, and western Tanzania and eastern South Africa, consistent follow up rains are still required before the end of November in order to avoid early season crop moisture stress that could necessitate replanting.

Parts of eastern South Africa had an onset delay of up to 30 days, but rains were received in early November. Parts of Lesotho and Eswatini had a delay of up to 20 days (Figure 2). In northern/central parts of the region including much of Zambia, where rains typically start in early November, rainfall is at least one dekad late. Short term forecasts from Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa’s national meteorological centres suggest an intensification of rainfall in these countries in mid-November, indicating possibility of a timely establishment of the onset of rains.