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Good outlook for rainy season, despite delayed start

Farmers in Zambia can look forward to improved rainfall by late November and early December, according to the Climate Service Centre of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“This signifies good chances of a generally timely rainfall onset, with good potential for crops reaching maturity if the rain perform well until the normal time of the end of the season,” said SADC’s latest food security early warnings system bulletin.

Seasonal rainfall forecasts released from Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) in August indicated that normal to above normal rainfall was likely in most parts of the region, especially in the central parts, including Zambia.

Delayed rain

According to the latest SADC bulletin, the northern parts of the North Western and Copperbelt region experienced a delayed start to their rainy season, with some of the areas receiving their first seasonal rains more than 20 days late. This might result in a late crop season for farmers in this region.

Farmers in most parts of Zambia did not suffer severely from the drought that caused a large crisis in food security for most members of the region.

Drought effects

The SADC are concerned that farmers in the drought stricken areas might not be able to access inputs because of a shortage of credit.

Another worrying factor, which might affect the outcome of the 2016/17 crop season, is the shortfalls in the availability of commercial maize seed in Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia, that might also lead to delays in planting.

According to the bulletin good rains are needed in the region for the following season to get farmers back on their feet again.

“The good rains forecast for many areas will help to reduce the severe hydrological shortfalls, and provide improved potential for crop production and livestock. However, availability of, and access to agricultural inputs for farmers need to be ensured in order to capitalize on the opportunities offered by the good season that has been forecast.”

According to the Zambian Meteorological Department farmers in the Lusaka, Eastern and Muchinga Provinces could expect some afternoon showers and thunderstorms until Saturday.

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