DAFF confirms that many areas in the country still experience drought conditions.  Generally, the veld remains poor, whereas livestock is in poor condition but reasonable in areas where there were interventions, e.g. provision of feed and licks. Winter crops are in reasonable to good conditions. Farm dams have dried up in most areas and the levels of major dams are low in all provinces compared to the previous season. Water restrictions have been implemented in several provinces.

Farmers are encouraged to implement measures provided in the early warning information issued such as:

  • Using grey water where possible.
  • Harvesting water during rainy days.
  • Scheduling irrigation plans in accordance with water restrictions and irrigating in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Proper veld management practices to preserve agricultural resources.

Rainfall expectations

The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS-NET) states that in August, the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) announced a seasonal forecast for normal to above normal rainfall for most parts of the region during the October-December period, with the exception of the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Tanzania, north-western Angola, northern Mozambique and eastern Madagascar, which are expected to receive normal to below normal rainfall during this period.

During the January-March period, similar rainfall conditions are expected, except normal to below normal rainfall is expected for southern Zimbabwe and Mozambique and northern South Africa. Staple supplies on markets in most affected countries remain limited.

Food prices continue to rise and for Mozambique and Malawi, maize prices are double the prices of both last year and the five-year average. Even in surplus countries, including Zambia and Tanzania, maize prices are higher than both last year and the five-year average. However, maize prices in Zimbabwe remain relatively stable in comparison to the previous year’s prices and are about 30% above the five-year average.

According to the seasonal forecast issued by the South African Weather Service dated 30 September, rainfall is uncertain during late spring. Towards mid-summer the rainfall is expected to be above normal but the level of uncertainty remains high with marginal confidence. Mostly higher-than-normal temperatures are expected during late-spring to mid-summer.

Recommendations

Producers of dryland summer crop should wait for sufficient moisture before planting and stay within the normal planting window. They are also advised to be conservative in their planting, i.e. planting density/cultivar/area being planted. In addition, they should consider drought-tolerant cultivars, including sorghum and maize where possible.

Irrigation farmers should reduce the planting area in line with water restrictions in their areas. Producers should follow the weather and climate forecast regularly to be able to make informed decisions.

Livestock farmers are advised to continue to have precautionary measures in place. These include provision of additional feed such as relevant licks, livestock reduction in accordance with available grazing, provision of enough water points on the farm where possible, as well as shelter during bad weather conditions.

The risk remains high for conditions conducive for veld fires as the veld is dry in areas with sufficient biomass. Farmers are encouraged to maintain firebreaks and adhere to veld fire warnings. Episodes of localised flooding resulting from thunderstorms are likely and measures should be in place. Heat waves have been reported in some areas and are likely to reoccur. Therefore, measures to combat these should be in place. – DAFF

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