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Namibia: Bleak Livestock Prospects for Drought-Stricken Country

Widespread drought in southern Africa is threatening Namibia’s economy. According to local media, Namib Mills will be raising retail prices on key grain staples – again — as of February 29. South Africa’s maize harvest was decimated by drought, which sent the price of white maize on the Johannesburg commodity exchange up by more than 155% between January 2015 and January 2016. For Namibia’s import-dependent livestock and dairy industries, this is disastrous, particularly since they’re facing the same drought. Feeding costs for dairy cowsrose 50% last year, pushing the industry to the brink of collapse.

Namibia already receives the most erratic rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa. If climate change makes droughts worse, then it will be hard to maintain any domestic food industries. (Water-intensive industries like mining and manufacturing will also suffer from a prolonged drought.)

The government is currently in emergency response mode due to the drought, but it can’t afford to always be playing catch-up. Relief measures (including subsidies for grazing and transport, and sales incentives) for cattle farmers began last March, at which time the government announced they would last until the drought situation normalized or until the emergency budget allocation was used up.

Rita Willaert

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