Environmental Affairs on 2016 Winter Season
Statement from Climate Change and Disaster Management: National Agro-meteorological Committee (NAC) Advisory on the 2016 winter season
In May, above normal rainfall was received over most parts of the country with the exception of the western and southern coastal areas and adjacent interiors where it was below normal.
In June, rainfall was above normal mainly in Gauteng, parts of North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, central Free State and the south-western parts of the country. In other areas the rainfall was normal to below normal.
For the second ten days of July, below normal rainfall was received over most parts of the country.
For the season July 2015 – June 2016, near normal to below normal rainfall was received over much of the central, northern and western parts of the country while the remaining areas received above normal rainfall.
2. Current conditions
Conditions in provinces
Drought still persists in many areas. The conditions of veld and livestock remain poor to very poor in communal areas but reasonable in other areas.
Occurrence of snow has been reported in KwaZulu-Natal. There were incidents of veld fires in Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. Swine fever was reported Free State and North West, and resulted in mortalities in Free State.
Also in the Free State, reports of mortality of pigs due to an unknown disease have been received, while in North West mortalities were as a result of consumption of poisonous plants.
The veterinary service is investigating in the Free State. Although water levels have improved in major dams in some provinces as a result of recent rain, they remain lower as compared to the previous year during the same period.
3. Market information
Major grain commodities
ABSA stated that maize prices traded lower and that there is a significant shortage of maize which is expected to boost exports to neighbouring countries.
It is expected that harvesting will weigh on the market and that the stronger rand will put pressure on prices.
Wheat prices traded lower and it is expected that the Rand could put pressure on prices.
Soybean prices were lower and as a result of harvesting nearing, the price of soya is anticipated to soften however the weakening rand will support prices.
4. Livestock domestic markets
ABSA stated that class A beef prices improved and prices are expected to follow a sideways movement in the short term and also recover in the coming weeks as warmer temperatures are approaching following cold temperatures during winter.
Mutton prices weakened due to higher slaughtering numbers and prices are expected to recover in the next few weeks as warmer temperatures are approaching. Pork prices were mixed, porker prices were higher while bacon prices were lower.
Prices can trade sideways to lower following seasonal trends, but an upward pressure in prices is expected towards the end of the year.
Poultry prices are lower; the supplies remain in abundance and this is putting pressure to market. It is expected that prices will continue to fall due to higher supplies which are met by weak demand.
5. SADC region
The June Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEW NET) report mentioned that following an El Niño-induced drought, Southern Africa is experiencing one of its poorest harvests in recent years, and an upsurge in households facing acute food insecurity.
FEWS NET estimates that a higher than normal number of people are currently facing acute food insecurity and about 17 million people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between January-March 2017, requiring immediate assistance.
At the height of the harvest period, many poor households in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Swaziland currently face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes.
Households in these countries are facing consumption gaps because they did not produce much staple this season and labour incomes are well-below average, constraining food access for households that are relying on market purchases for consumption much earlier than usual.
For households in many drought-affected areas in the region, this is the second or third consecutive year of poor production. A regional cereal deficit of 6-8 million MT is expected in Southern Africa.
Furthermore FEWS NET indicated that imports from Zambia, Tanzania, and other international markets will only partially mitigate this shortfall.
Maize prices, which are already above last year and the five-year average, are expected to rise further and remain significantly above these levels, especially in Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe.
Some of the main drivers of the high food prices are low maize supplies and substantially higher demand for market purchases. Early June Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecasts indicate that a La Niña event is likely to develop during the start of the 2016-17 agricultural season.
In the Southern Africa region a La Niña event tends to be associated with above-average rainfall, however initial model forecasts suggest that precipitation will be near average for October-December.
Since the start of the season is several months away and forecasts for another important factor, the status of the Subtropical Indian Ocean Dipole (SIOD), are still forthcoming, FEWS NET is assuming a normal start to the 2016-17 cropping season across the region.
A normal start to agricultural activities, including land preparation and planting, should improve labour opportunities and income levels for households, however high maize prices projected during this period will continue to impede food access.
V. Rainfall and temperature forecast
Rainfall is anticipated to be above normal along the west coast and adjacent interior but below normal elsewhere during spring.
Temperatures are anticipated to be above normal during spring, but over the western parts maximum temperatures are expected to be below normal.
There is a large amount of uncertainty towards which direction rainfall may take in the coming seasons. Farmers are encouraged to continually check updates i.e. seasonal forecasts and utilise 7 day weather forecasts for short term planning.
VII. Conclusions and recommendations
Some winter rainfall areas have received good rainfalls. Drought continues in the provinces and is being exacerbated by the normal dry winter conditions, especially in summer rainfall areas.
The seasonal forecast favours above normal rainfall towards the beginning of spring along the west coast and adjacent interior, while in other areas of the country rainfall is anticipated to be below normal.
Caution is advised due to a large amount of uncertainty in the forecast. With the seasonal forecast in mind, and the current drought, farmers are advised to continue to conserve water and other resources in accordance with the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 1983, (Act No. 43 of 1983).
Livestock is reportedly in reasonable to poor condition, but grazing is in poor condition in most areas.
Precautionary measures such as provision of additional feed including relevant licks, livestock reduction in accordance with available grazing, provision of enough water points in the farm as well as shelter during bad weather conditions need to remain in place.
Veld fires have been reported and the risk remains high for conditions conducive for veld fires due to the dry veld.
Farmers are encouraged to maintain firebreaks in all areas and adhere to veld fire warnings. Episodes of cold spells and localised flooding resulting from frontal systems are likely towards the end of winter and measures should be in place.
Farmers are encouraged to implement measures provided in the early warning information issued.
Challenges of communication facilities in most districts in the provinces inhibit both dissemination and access to information and thus undermining the effectiveness of an Early Warning System.
Continuous support to Early Warning Committee and National Agro-meteorological Committee members in provinces will ensure the effective dissemination of early warning information as an integral component of an effective Early Warning System in support of disaster risk reduction.
Participation in the established structures/study groups and Fire Protection Associations among farming communities will encourage knowledge sharing, good farming practices as well as effective implementation of the disaster risk reduction measures.
Reporting of disaster risk issues to the local office including diseases and pests outbreak will ensure immediate attention and controlling of incidences.
Sectoral programmes should consider the advisory information in planning their activities.
The following form part of the recommendations in the full advisory for disaster risk reduction:
Precautionary measure for very dry conditions.
Contingency plans for very cold conditions.
DAFF will continue to revisit the provinces in support of their monitoring and evaluation of the agricultural conditions.
For a complete advisory, visit the DAFF website www.daff.gov.za
Contact CCDM for more information:
Tel: 012 309 5722
Fax: 012 309 5878
Department of Environmental Affairs