Erratic rains threaten crop production

from New Era
Published on 12 Feb 2013 View Original

Story by Paulus Paulus and Fifi Rhodes

WINDHOEK - Namibian farmers should brace themselves for a severe drought should the prevailing dry conditions persist over the next two months.

The rains have been erratic since the onset of the rainy season this year with many parts of the country enduring very hot conditions with little moisture, which poses a threat to crop farmers. February is often characterised by heavy rain, but so far the first two weeks have been dry with rain confined mainly to the northeast and some isolated thundershowers in the north-central and central parts of the country.

This week’s forecast, according to the weather bureau, indicates isolated thundershowers, mostly in the northeastern and north-central parts of the country. In a report issued last week by the Namibia Metrological Services (NMS) the month of January 2013 was dominated by very dry conditions over the greater part of Namibia, with patches of moderate rainfall only in the northeastern parts of the country, mainly during the first half of the month.

The NMS report clearly indicates that since drought conditions persist there should be concern about crop and grazing conditions, except possibly in the northeast. “The cumulative performance as at 31st January 2013, also depicts below normal levels of performance in the greater part of the country, with patches of near normal to above normal rainfall only in the northeastern, and to an lesser extent northern parts of the country,” according to the report.

“So far there have also been no reports of floods and inflows in the dams in the interior of the country in the 2012/13 rainy season.

The only flood of significance in northern Namibia is in the Zambezi River,” it added.
The Zambezi River continues to rise with a flood wave developing in the Kavango River. Sunday’s NMS daily report forecast significant rains in the northeastern part of the country with the highest reading of 12.2mm forecast for the M’pacha Airport in Katima Mulilo.

In its oversight the hydrological service in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry indicated no development of water flows were reported in the Cuvelai oshanas. It indicated further that the flows in the Kunene, Kavango and Kwando rivers are also not indicating any major flood developments. However, the Zambezi River is still rising rapidly at Katima Mulilo.

By Sunday morning, its water level stood at 5.25m and it had not reached the 5.5m mark forecast ten days ago. But it is still the highest on record for February 10, since 1968, when the seasonal peak reached 7m. The NMS is expected to release another weather and climate report today with a comparison of rainfall figures for January this year in contrast to the same period last year.