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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

El Niño lowers early production outlook in southern Africa

Crop production prospects in Southern Africa have been weakened by the El Niño weather phenomenon that has lowered rains and increased temperatures, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said. A reduced agricultural output would follow on last year's disappointing season, which has already contributed to higher food prices and "could acutely impact the food security situation in 2016," according to a special alert released on Dec. 22 by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS). The season for planting maize in southern Africa has already experienced delays, while crops sown stand to be negatively affected due to inadequate rains and higher temperatures. "It's the sixth week of the cropping season now and there's not enough moisture in the soil," said Shukri Ahmed, FAO deputy strategic program leader. The region's small-scale farmers are almost entirely dependent on rain, rendering their output highly susceptible to its variations. While El Niño's impact depends highly on location and season - the impact of El Niño on agricultural production appears more muted in northern areas - past strong episodes have been associated with reduced production in several countries, including South Africa, which is the largest cereal producer in the sub-region and typically exports maize to neighboring countries, FAO said.

Source: world-grain.com