MAIZE production for the 2017/2018 season will be below average because of the dry spell experienced mid-season, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) has reported.
In its April report released a fortnight ago, FEWSNET said in some southern areas harvests would be very low and some households were expected to have no harvests at all.
“Based on FEWSNET’s pre-harvest assessments and other sources, production prospects for maize and other crops for the 2018 harvest are below average in most areas due to the prolonged dry spell in December and January, among other factors,” FEWSNET said.
Water availability and access are still good in most areas, especially in the north, allowing households to engage in livelihood activities such as gardening as on-farm activities decrease, FEWSNET added.
However, in parts of the south and other typically arid areas, water challenges are surfacing.
The 2017/2018 rainfall season officially ended at the end of March. Unlike last year when rains were received up to May in some areas, April was generally dry with some light showers in isolated places.
While harvesting of the early-planted crop has started in most areas, crops planted later in the season are, however, still in the vegetative and reproductive stages.
Government has extended the 2017 restrictions regime put in place to prevent private merchants or traders from buying maize directly from farmers. The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) will be the sole buyer of maize from farmers, together with registered licensed contractors who will be restricted to purchase maize only from contracted farmers.
The GMB maize buying price remains at $390 per tonne. The 2017/2018 marketing season ended in March with maize grain prices remaining below average even at the peak of the lean season.
“Average maize grain prices for March ($0,35/kg) in FEWSNET sentinel markets were stable relative to February, but 12 percent below same time last year and 13 percent below the five-year average,” FEWSNET said.
In the northern and other normally surplus-producing areas, opportunities for casual labour will be affected, as well as incomes from crop sales. However, a combination of some carryover stocks from the 2017 season and supplies from the 2018 harvest will sustain minimal food security outcomes between April and May.