SADC alerts farmers on extended dry spell this year....
SADC farmers have been advised not to sell their food stocks harvested last season as the region expects an extended dry spell this coming rainy season. This was contained in a statement made by its Director for food, agriculture and natural resources, Domingos Gove during a media briefing on the status of food security in the region.
This was at a heads of state and government summit that took place in Windhoek last week. At the event, Gove said low rainfall received last season was influenced by ‘La Niña’; has negatively affected crop harvests in the region; and a drought is expected to worsen this season.
He added that major maize-producing countries such as South Africa and Zambia also recorded declines in harvests in the last season, with yields decreasing by 23% and 34%, respectively.
This situation would thus threaten food security in the region, and farmers were advised not to sell their produce in order to save up for the expected drought.
“The food security situation in the region is good, but situations of food insecurity may occur in more vulnerable communities in countries such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe,” Gove said, adding that although crop prices are currently relatively low, they “may increase with the shortage of food production”.
He furthermore stated that SADC was monitoring trans-boundary crop pests and diseases, including the fall army worm which has spread to “42 African countries, including 13 SADC countries, excluding Lesotho and Mauritius”.
The crop disease situation, such as “banana bunch top virus and lethal maize necrosis”, he added, also put crop production in the region under threat.
Gove thus urged member states to put measures in place to ensure that farmers access available pesticides.
SADC has introduced several integrated pest management measures, including low toxic pesticides and other biological methods, to control pests and diseases.
SADC also implemented the harmonised seed regulatory system to improve the affordability and accessibility of disease-free seeds in the region which can be used in all member states.
Animal production was equally under threat in the region, and if diseases such as the “highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), foot and mouth disease, and rabies” are not dealt with, SADC countries would not be able to export meat anywhere in the world.