London — The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that dry weather conditions and high temperatures are likely to reduce harvests in southern Africa, leading to a rise in food insecurity.
In a statement, the FAO pointed out that poor rains and hot temperatures have triggered water stress and adversely affected crop development in several areas of southern Africa.
The statement stressed that “while cereal stocks in the region are ample, the spell of dry weather and erratic rains earlier in the season signals multiple risks to agricultural yields and may aggravate the impact of the Fall Armyworm pest”. As a result, it is expected that an increasing number of people will be in need of assistance.
Maize production hit a record level in 2017 in southern Africa, which was “a welcome development after sharp output declines in the previous year caused by an unusually strong El Niño”. The good harvest enabled most countries to build up inventories, which should cushion the effects of the likely production decreases this year.
However, FAO pointed out that many smallholders and rural families are still recovering from losses due to the severe El Niño associated drought, and they are vulnerable to a downturn.