September 19, 2023

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development issues climate advisory for 2022/23 summer season

The majority of the country is currently reporting poor to reasonable veld and livestock conditions. Areas with summer rainfall have started to receive rains, mostly later in October, and farmers are preparing land for planting. Parts of the Western Cape, the extreme western regions of the Northern Cape and the Sarah Baartman District of the Eastern Cape continue to experience dry conditions. The average level of large dams remains high in most provinces.

According to the Seasonal Climate Watch published by the South African Meteorological Service, dated November 1, 2022, above normal rainfall is expected for most parts of the country for the summer season. Minimum temperatures are expected to be above normal across the country, however, maximum temperatures are expected to be below normal in large parts of the country throughout the summer.

The October Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported that the results of the crisis (IPC Phase 3) are expected to become widespread in southern regions of Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique , as well as parts of Angola and much of Zimbabwe due to cumulative effects. low rainfall of 2021/22, tropical cyclones and national economic declines that began in October. Food security outcomes are expected to be most severe in southwestern Madagascar, where emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes also began in October. The population in need is expected to increase steadily until early 2023. Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and northern Mozambique remains the main driver of acute food insecurity with disruption of livelihood activities. In Mozambique, the provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula saw an escalation of militia attacks in September. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 15,400 people were displaced between late August and late September. In the DRC, the security situation in the eastern provinces continues to deteriorate, particularly in Ituri. Households in conflict-affected areas continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and struggle to engage in the next agricultural season.

FEWS NET further reported that across the region, poor households engage in off-season income-generating activities. Although opportunities are currently limited, they were expected to improve to near normal levels by October with the start of land preparation in most areas. From November to December, there will likely be further improvements in agricultural activities, including planting. Forecast La Niña conditions are generally associated with average to above average rainfall in southern Africa. They will likely improve the availability of agricultural labor opportunities in most of the region. However, in areas such as southern Madagascar, income from agricultural labor opportunities will remain below normal, as better-off households have lower liquidity following consecutive droughts. Food prices are rising as more households depend on markets for food, especially in areas where production shortfalls were observed in 2022.

This year, price increases have been accelerated by high fuel prices linked to high world prices, according to FEWS NET. Grain maize prices are 70-180% above the five-year average in Malawi and up to 42% above average in Mozambique. In the DRC and Zimbabwe, food prices are expected to remain above the five-year average throughout the lean season. In the drought-affected southern regions of Madagascar, dried cassava prices are 67% above average. In most countries, inflation has also increased, likely leading to further increases in food prices. Poor households in the most deficit areas will continue to have difficulty accessing food on the market due to low purchasing power.

[The IPC is a set of standardised tools that aims at providing a “common currency” for classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity.]

With current conditions in mind, as well as seasonal forecasts, farmers in arid areas are advised to wait for sufficient moisture before planting and to stay within the planting window. Farmers in areas that experience consistently dry conditions should prioritize drought-tolerant cultivars. In areas with reasonable condition, farmers are advised to prepare according to expected conditions, i.e. according to seasonal forecasts. However, they should not expand planting land unnecessarily. Additionally, farmers should note that the distribution of rainfall remains a challenge, therefore not all areas may receive the predicted above normal rainfall which is well distributed.

Farmers are also advised to put in place measures against pests and diseases associated with humid and hot conditions, as above normal rainfall is expected. Additionally, it is important for farmers to regularly monitor weather forecasts in order to make informed decisions. Farmers using irrigation must follow the water restrictions in their areas. Farmers must permanently conserve resources in accordance with the Agricultural Resources Conservation Act 1983 (Act No. 43 of 1983).

Farmers are advised to keep livestock in balance with the carrying capacity of the veldt and to provide supplemental feeds such as suitable salt licks. Livestock must have sufficient water points on the farm as well as shelter in case of bad weather conditions. Areas of winter precipitation become drier, increasing favorable conditions for veld fires. Therefore, the creation and maintenance of fire belts by mechanical means should take priority, along with compliance with veld fire warnings.

Flooding events resulting from rain-bearing weather systems have occurred and will continue; precautionary measures should be put in place. Heat waves have been reported and will occur during the summer and therefore measures to combat them must be prepared. Farmers are encouraged to implement the strategies provided in published early warning information.

The department will partner with all relevant stakeholders to continue to sensitize the sector and empower farmers on understanding, interpreting and using early warning information for disaster risk mitigation and response. .

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the South African Government.