Food Security Early Warning System - Agromet Update, Issue 4: 2018/2019 Agricultural Season
- A late and erratic onset of rains delayed planting and reduced area planted in southern and western parts of the region.
- A dry spell from mid-January to early February caused moderate to severe crop moisture stress in the central parts of the region. The dry spell ended in early February, allowing recovery of some crops. Observations however indicate that permanent wilting had occurred in several areas.
- Rainfall performance to date is raising concerns for regional harvests, particularly in areas with prevailing high levels of food insecurity, and some traditionally high production areas.
- The season is progressing well in north-eastern parts of the region, with good harvest prospects.
Total rainfall from October 2018 to early February 2019 was well below average across most parts of the region. Preliminary analysis suggests that for several south-western and central areas, the October-to-January rainfall totals may have been among the lowest in almost 40 years (Figure 1). These areas include southern Angola, northern Namibia, northern Botswana, Lesotho, much of South Africa, southern Zambia, and central and western Zimbabwe. In general, the low seasonal rainfall totals observed in the region were primarily the result of (a) delayed and erratic onset of rains in several areas that resulted in reduced planted area and poor germination, and (b) mid-season dry spells of varying duration that resulted in crop moisture stress and wilting of crops. These factors both reduce end of season production prospects due to reductions in planted area, reduced yields, and reduced potential for crops to reach maturity. The poor seasonal performance is likely to have the most negative local impacts in those cropping areas which had already experienced poor agricultural production for the 2017-2018 season, and subsequently elevated high levels of food insecurity. Poor seasonal crop performance in traditionally high-production areas may also have a bearing on regional supplies.