South Africa: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries On Winter Season

press release

Drought conditions persist in the Western Cape, parts of the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape. Water restrictions remain in place in several provinces. The majority of summer rainfall areas have reported reasonable to good veld and livestock conditions.

According to the Seasonal Climate Watch issued by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) dated 31 May 2019, there is no clear indication regarding rainfall expectations for the winter rainfall areas during mid and late winter─ the forecast is uncertain. Temperatures are expected to be above normal for the northern parts of the country; becoming lower for the southern parts of the country during early spring.

The May 2019 Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) report indicates that despite the start of the harvest, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is present in areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, DRC, and Lesotho. Humanitarian assistance is mitigating outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe, southern areas of Madagascar, and Kasia region of DRC.

Food security outcomes are anticipated to improve temporarily with the harvest in areas of DRC, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is most likely. The rest of the region is anticipated to be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

Tropical Cyclone Kenneth hit the northern coast of Mozambique on April 25 with sustained winds of 155 kilometres/hour or higher. Heavy rainfall and associated flooding affected over 375,000 people. Many poor households in the affected areas lost their livelihoods and harvest for the 2019/20 season due to flooding. Humanitarian response is ongoing in affected areas and many poor households are anticipated to need humanitarian assistance through the end of the 2019/20 consumption year.

Impacts on food security outcomes due to Tropical Cyclone Kenneth and associated flooding will be updated in Mozambique's specific analysis.

Furthermore FEWS-NET indicated that staple food prices typically decreased with the harvest as household start consuming own foods; however, maize grain prices in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Lesotho continue increasing.

In Zimbabwe, this is the result of the deterioration of the macro economy and the poor harvest. In areas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe affected by Tropical Cyclone Idai, staple food prices are expected to remain above average. Food prices in Lesotho, especially in Maseru market have been increasing since January due to the anticipated poor harvest in South Africa.

Rice prices in Madagascar stabilised or decreased in April compared to March. Conflict and economic challenges continue to drive acute food insecurity in DRC and Zimbabwe. In DRC, conflict continues to manifest differently across the country with some improvements in the security situation facilitating the return of some households in Kasai, South-Kivu, Tanganyika, and Maniema Provinces. However, in areas affected by Ebola, repeated attacks on treatment centres hampers efforts to bring the outbreak under control.

In Zimbabwe, the volatile macroeconomic situation continues to deteriorate with increasing fuel prices, staple food prices, and foreign exchange shortages further weakening household access to food and other basic needs.

[The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a set of standardised tools that aims at providing a "common currency" for classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity.]

Dryland winter crop farmers are advised to 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 where possible. Farmers using irrigation should reduce the planting area in line with water restrictions in their areas. Farmers need to follow the weather and climate forecast regularly so as to make informed decisions.

Livestock in the country must continually be kept in line with carrying capacity of the veld, and be provided with additional feed such as relevant licks. They should also be provided with enough water points on the farm as well as shelter during bad weather conditions. As the veld has dried out in summer rainfall areas, this increases the risk of veld fires.

Therefore creation of fire belts should be prioritised as well as adherence to veld fire warnings. Episodes of cold spells and localised flooding resulting from frontal systems will occur during winter and preventative measures should be in place to minimise or adapt to the negative impacts of these hazards.

Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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