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Belg production likely to be far below average in June/July

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • May 2015
Belg production likely to be far below average in June/July

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2015
  • Partner
    WFP
    Key Messages
    • Belg rains started late in most areas, and there have been several dry spells. Less land was prepared than normal, and planted area, in places, is as little as less than half of average. The planting window for many crops, including maize, has closed. Moreover, some of the crops have already wilted. 

    • Accordingly, the Belg harvest will likely be delayed into July or August, extending the lean season. Production is expected to be far below average. Therefore, poor households, particularly those in Belg-dominant areas in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and northeastern Amhara will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) only with humanitarian assistance in May and June and will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September. 

    • With below-average rain in the previous two seasons and a well-below average rainfall since March, pasture, browse, and water availability is very low in Sitti (formerly Shinile) and Fafan (formerly Jijiga) Zones in Somali Region. Livestock body conditions are poor, and livestock productivity and values are low. Due to weakness and reduced disease resistance, unusual livestock deaths were reported in March and April. Accordingly, household incomes have not increased as they typically would after the rains started.


    Current Situation
    • January to mid-March was unusually dry in most parts of SNNPR, particularly in the lowlands of Sidama, Wolayita, Gamo Gofa, Hadiya, Kambata Tambaro, Gurage, Silte, and Halaba Zones. Light Belg rains started late in mid-March. Cumulative rainfall has been far below average and unevenly distributed with long a dry spells in April. Less land preparation occurred, and planted area under Belg crops and long--cycle Meher crops is well below average. Planted area estimates range from 24 to 57 percent of average, but in some areas, planted seeds failed to germinate due to moisture stress. Crops that are developing are mainly at the germination or seedling stages while normally, at this time of year, they would be at the vegetative or early flowering stages. Normally, households would be harvesting some sweet potatoes and cabbage at this time of the year, but due to the even drier than usual January conditions, these crops are not currently available in most areas.
    • February to April was drier than normal in most parts of Amhara, Tigray, and eastern and central Oromia Region (Figure 1). Planted area for Belg crops and long-cycle crops has been very low. Only eight percent of average planted area has been planted in East Hararghe Zone of Oromia, and in Amhara Region, planted area is only 40 percent of average. No Belg or long-cycle crops have been planted in some parts of North Shewa and West Hararghe Zones of Oromia Region. Most planted crops currently are at the vegetative stage, but some areas in North Shewa Zone of Amhara Region have barley at the tasseling and grain-filling stages. Rainfall amounts and distribution were average in early May in most parts of Amhara, Tigray, and Oromia Regions, allowing land preparation for and planting of long-cycle crops in eastern and central Oromia and the lowlands of northeastern Amhara and Tigray Regions. Following rains in the first half of May, land preparation for Meher crops is underway.
    • In addition to the effects of the low amount of Belg rains on crops, pasture and water availability is low in most parts of SNNPR, the northeastern highlands of Amhara, the lowlands of Wag Himra, nearby areas in North Gondar Zone in Amhara Region, and the lowlands of East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia Region. Crop residues from last season have already been consumed by livestock, and pasture is not yet regenerated. Tree leaves and branches are widely being fed to livestock in SNNPR. In the northeastern highlands of Amhara, households are destocking through sales and purchasing hay for the remaining livestock in their herds. An outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) is reported in Chinakson and Gursum Woredas in East Hararghe Zone, with the potential to have infected 7,000 cattle in Chinakson Woreda. Livestock are traveling up six hours round trip to water points and only being watered every other day in the lowland areas of Sidama, Silte, Halaba, and Gurage Zones in SNNPR. As a result, livestock body conditions are getting poorer, and livestock production and productivity has declined.
    • The March to May Diraac/Sugum rains started two to three weeks late in most parts of Afar and Fafan (formerly Jijiga) Zone in Somali Region. However, in Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone, the rain started on time in mid-March, but two days of rains were all that had fallen from March to mid-May. Most areas remained unusually dry in April, though rain did resume at the beginning of May in many places. In agropastoral and agricultural areas, the dry conditions have largely prevented crop production. With the dry conditions, pasture, browse, and water resources have been depleted in many areas. Forage is most difficult to find in Awash Fentale, Amibara, and Gewane Woredas of Gabi (formerly Zone 3), Kori, Elidar, and Mille Woredas of Awsi (formerly Zone 1) in Afar Region, Aisha, Afedem, the lowlands of Erer, Meisso, and Shinile Woredas in Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone, Harshen, and Babile Woredas of Fafan (formerly Jijiga) Zone in northern Somali Region. Consequently, livestock body conditions are poor, and livestock production and product availability have declined. Moreover, a large number of livestock have been unusually migrated in April from these areas towards adjacent areas in Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray Regions. Livestock deaths have been reported in Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone.
    • The rains started on time in early April, and amounts have been closer to average since mid-April in both pastoral and agropastoral areas in South Omo Zone in SNNPR and in southern Somali Region. Pastoralists have migrated in with their livestock from neighboring areas of Somali. About 3,500 households with their livestock have migrated to northern Gashamo Woreda in Jarar (formerly Degehabur) Zone. The Fafan and Jarar seasonal rivers flooded in early May, damaging property and displacing some households in Kabridahar, Doboweyn, and Shekosh Woredas in Korahe Zone.
    • The Genna rains started two to three weeks late, but since early April, near average amounts of rain fell with typical distribution over time and space in Borena and Guji Zones in Oromia Region. In reaction, pasture, browse, and water availability along with livestock productivity have increased. Livestock body conditions have improved. However, livestock body conditions remain poorer and productivity remains lower than normal in the southern lowlands of Borena. Due to the late start of Genna rains, maize planting is less than usual. Short-cycle crops were planted on time, and they are now at the germination to vegetative stages. In the lowlands of Bale Zone, only 18 percent of average planted area is under crops.
    • As stocks from the Meher harvest were drawn down, staple food prices increased more than seasonally from March to April in the eastern and southern parts of the country. However, maize and sorghum prices remained lower than last year in agricultural areas due to remaining stocks. On the other hand, wheat and lentil prices are higher this year in most areas. Large-scale purchases to minimize imports for government stocks and programs may have contributed to higher wheat prices than last year. Higher lentil prices are likely due to below-average Meher production in 2014. In Afar, low milk production has increased demand for cereals, so staple food prices remain higher than last year. For instance, April maize prices in Abala and Asaita were 20 and 30 percent above last year, respectively.
    • Livestock prices remained high and stable in most of SNNPR. Goat-to-maize Terms of Trade (ToT) are above average. However, poor households in SNNPR own very few livestock. On the other hand, poor livestock body conditions led to prices declining from March to April in the lowlands of Wag Himra, the northeastern highlands of Amhara, and the lowlands of East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia Region. Prices continued to decline in northern Somali and Afar due to poor livestock body conditions. However, livestock prices increased slightly from March to April in southern Somali Region due to improved body conditions and a slight increase in export demand.
    • With deteriorating food security in SNNPR, the number of malnourished children admitted to the therapeutic feeding programs (TFP) in March was around a third more than February. In Hadiya, Gamo Gofa, and Sidama Zones admissions increased 45, 47, and 63 percent, respectively.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the April to September 2015 Outlook


    Projected Outlook through September 2015
    • Northeastern and southern Afar, Harshin Woreda of Fafan (formerly Jijiga) Zone, and Aisha, Meisso, Afedem, Erer, and Shinile Woredas of Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone: Household food access is expected to further deteriorate until the start of Karan/ Karma rains in July. Poor households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in May and June. With the anticipated improvement of livestock body conditions and likely increased livestock production, poor households will move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July to September.
    • Northwestern and central Afar Region and the rest of northern Somali Region: Despite the below normal March to May Sugum/Dirac rains, some pasture and browse from earlier seasons has helped and will continue to sustain livestock body conditions, production, and productivity. Following the start of Karan/Karma rains in July, livestock body conditions are expected to improve slightly and productivity to increase. However, continued cereal prices higher than last year will likely keep households Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.
    • Lowlands of Borena, Guji, and South Omo Zones: Despite some increase in pasture and water availability following the late start of Genna rains, livestock body conditions and livestock production has not yet fully recovered. These will likely decline during the June to September dry season. Due to low planted area, far below average maize production is expected in agropastoral areas in July. Most areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance through September, but the southern lowlands of Borena will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September due to even lower availability of rangeland resources.
    • Southeastern pastoral areas: Despite the improvement on livestock body conditions, production and productivity following the normal Gu rains, continued increases in staple food prices and still small herd sizes will continue to limit purchasing power. Therefore, poor households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. However, in some southern parts of Korahe, Afder, and Liben Zones, lower water availability and a low level of camel calving during the June to September Xagaa dry season may reduce livestock production further. In these areas, poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance from July to September.
    • Lowlands in the Tekeze River catchment in Wag Himra and North Gondar Zones in Amhara Region: Due to the early start and extended need for market purchases along with low agricultural labor demand, poor and very poor households are likely to continue to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September 2015.
    • Lowlands of East Shewa, West Arsi,  and eastern Oromia, and some midlands in West Arsi Zone: With low production last year, especially of maize, and the extended need for market purchases, household incomes and coping abilities have been stretched. The lowlands of West Arsi and eastern Oromia will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September. The lowlands in East Shewa Zone and some midlands in West Arsi Zone are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with the continued presence of humanitarian assistance from May to June. However, as more households exhaust their food stocks and agricultural labor demand remains low, poor and very poor households will likely move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.
    • Belg-producing areas of northeastern Amhara: Already in the peak of the lean season, a very low Belg harvest in July will not last long and some households that planted are unlikely to harvest anything, effectively extending the lean season. Poorer households will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with continued humanitarian assistance from May to June, and then they will likely move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September. However, recent rains may still facilitate the planting of low-yielding Ginbote barley for harvest in November/December.
    • Lowlands of Gamo Gofa, Wolayita, Hadiya, Kambata Tambaro, Gurage, Halaba, and Sidama in SNNPR: Even the Belg crops that have survived may not mature and be ready to harvest until September. With the lean season extending until then and low agricultural labor demand, households will likely consume less from July to September. These areas are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the continued presence of humanitarian assistance in May and June. However, as staple food prices seasonally increase, these areas will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.
    • Most of Segen, the highlands of Gamo Gofa, Wolayita, Hadiya, and Kambata Tambaro in SNNPR: With stocks from last year’s near average Meher production, Productive Safety Nets Program (PSNP) transfers, and some ongoing cabbage being harvested, most areas will remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in May and June. However, the anticipated seasonal increase in staple food prices and the likely delay in the Belg harvest will move these areas into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July to September.  
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall February 1 to May 30, 2015 as a percentage of the 1981-to-2010 mean, African rainfall climatolo

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall February 1 to May 30, 2015 as a percentage of the 1981-to-2010 mean, African rainfall climatology-2 (ARC2) methodology

    Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Climate Prediction Cente…

    Figure 5

    Source:

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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