Southern Africa Faces Extensive Crop Failure in 2016

Mphatlalatsane Agriculture Cooperative in Hantsi village, Machache, Lesotho, has lots of leftover maize inputs this year as many local farmers decided the weather was too erratic to risk planting. Photo credit: Eva-Lotta Jansson/IRIN

Mphatlalatsane Agriculture Cooperative in Hantsi village, Machache, Lesotho, has lots of leftover maize inputs this year as many local farmers decided the weather was too erratic to risk planting. Photo credit: Eva-Lotta Jansson/IRIN

Southern Africa is facing the threat of extensive crop failures this year as a result of record low rainfall in a region, according to an article by humanitarian news agency IRIN.

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“With little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals closing fast or already closed in some countries, the outlook is alarming,” the World Food Programme has warned.

“The region is ill-prepared for a shock of this magnitude, particularly since the last growing season was also affected by drought. This means depleted regional stocks, high food prices, and substantially increased numbers of food insecure people,” the UN agency said.

Southern Africa is feeling the impact of an intense El Niño that began last year. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, continued below-average rainfall and high temperatures are likely to persist in 2016, with the food crisis lasting into 2017.

The article included a breakdown of the affected countries in Southern Africa, among them South Africa, the biggest victim of the drought. As the region’s main maize producer, last year output fell 30% from the bumper 2014 season and it may have to import around 6 million tonnes. Planting of the 2016 cereal crop began later than normal due to delayed rains. Small-scale farmers have been hammered by the drought, with emergencies declared in five out of nine provinces, as well as areas of two other provinces. There have been reports of farmers committing suicide.

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