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Food prices continue to increase.

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • September 2012
Food prices continue to increase.

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through December 2012
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    Key Messages
    • Following the somewhat favorable Kiremt rains starting in July, the planted crops are at their normal developmental stages in most of the country. Pasture and water availability have improved leading to a subsequent improvement in livestock body condition. Despite the overall improvements, pocket areas in the country that have been affected by hailstorms and floods. Also, in some eastern marginal Meher producing areas, including areas in North and South Wollo and South and East Tigray, the early cessation of Kiremt rain has already reduced crop growth and is expected to further reduce yields.

    • If the El Niño phenomenon starts as forecasted, it has a tendency to enhance precipitation in the southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas, positively impacting food security beginning in October and November when the Deyr/Hagaya rains start. Unseasonal rains could also occur in areas harvesting the Meher in November and December, reducing yields.

    • Being the primary, agricultural lean season, food prices are not expected to decline in September. However, high food prices compared to already high prices last year is limiting the ability of the poor and the very poor households to make market purchases of food.

    • The need for humanitarian food assistance in northeastern and southern parts of the country is expected to remain high as households continue to rebuild livelihoods following successive droughts since 2010.

    Updated food security outlook through December 2012

    Southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas

    The southern parts of Somali Region have remained dry as usual since the end of the Gu rains in May 2012. Similarly, the lowlands of Borana and Guji of Oromia and South Omo Zones of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) remain dry, but cold due to heavy cloud coverage. Cloud cover has moderated the temperature and reduced evapotranspiration, meaning that pasture and water sources are depleting slower than usual.

    Water shortages are reported from localities in Kebridehar, Geladi, Danot, Shilabo, and Warder Woredas in Korahe and Dollo (formerly Warder) Zones as well as in Yaole and Daror Woredas in Jarar (formerly Deghabur) Zone. Ponds and hand dug wells have either dried up or the volume of water has declined. Water shortages are expected to worsen up until the Deyr/Hagaya rainy season starts in early October. Pasture availability in most parts of southern Somali, Borana, Guji, and South Omo can last at least up until the normal onset period of Deyr/Hagaya rainy season in early October. However, pasture shortages have been a problem in some woredas including Fafan (formerly Jijiga), Shabelle (formerly Gode), part of Kelafo Adadle, Barey, Dolo Bay, and Dolo Ado Woredas of Somali Region following relatively poor March to June Gu rainfall this year.

    The failure of Gu/Gana crops in the agropastoral areas decreases household access to own producted food and reduces the supply of grain to local markets. Short-distance livestock migration increased to find pasture and water. Migration has resulted in livestock concentration in some small areas in Korahe, Dollo (formerly Warder), Jarar (formerly Deghabur), and Shabelle (formerly Gode) Zones of Somali Region. Current livestock body conditions are generally below normal, and they are expected to deteriorate further before the start of the rains. Due to poor performance of the last Gu rainy season, the milk production has decreased. Declining livestock and livestock production, the main source of food and income for most pastoral households, caused a further decline in household food consumption. As a result, there were reports of malnutrition in pastoral areas of the aforementioned zones of the region. Food and livestock prices are both well abovetheir five-year averages. For instance, the August maize prices are 65 percent and 69 percent higher than the five-year average. Similarly, the regional prices of an average-sized goat or sheep was eight to nine percent higher in August than in July and 47 to 63 percent higher than the five-year average. Accordingly, the income from one goat or sheep can buy 144 kg and 154 kg of maize in Shabelle (formerly Gode) and Afder Zones, respectively. This favors households with adequate livestock holdings but not the poor and the very poor households who have relatively smaller herds.

    Though emergency food assistance is under way for the majority of the affected areas identified during the Belg/Gu/Gana seasonal assessment in June 2012, the food insecurity remains a large concern. As a result of continued poor access to food, the majority of the poor population remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) at present. If humanitarian assistance continues, and if the Deyr/Hagaya seasonal rainfall performs normally, the food security situation is likely to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) though humanitarian assistance would play a key role in this improvement.

    Major sweet potato-growing zones and the dominantly Belg-producing southern woredas of SNNPR

    The normal to above normal amount and distribution of Kiremt rainfall was generally favorable for agricultural activities in most parts of SNNPR. However, there was erratic rainfall in some localized areas including the lowlands in Segen, Hadiya, Wolayta , Gamogofa, and Sidama Zones. Weather-related hazards such as flooding affected standing crops in the fields including teff, wheat, barley, bean, peas, haricot beans, and root crops in Boloso Sore, Damot Gale, and Sodo Zuria Woredas of Wolayta Zone Angacha, Aderotinto, and Danboya of Kambata Tambaro Zone, Meskane, Sankura, and Lanfro Woredas of Gurahe Zone. In addition to the floods, hailstorms and landslides also damaged crops in some of these woredas.

    The area planted with Meher crops in July and August has significantly dropped in the double-cropping, bimodal areas of the midlands and lowlands in Gamo Gofa, Wolayta, Kembata Tembaro, Hadiya, and Sidama Zones due to delays of Belg rainfall and subsequent delays of Belg maize harvesting. Maize harvesting usually starts in June or July, but this year was delayed until August and September. The Meher crops are currently at different development stages; some are at the growth and vegetative stages including teff, haricot bean, and sorghum, while others are at the flowering stage including Irish potato. The Meher maize planted in July is still at the seed setting and ripening stages. The Belg haricot beans are already harvested, and green consumption of maize has started in much of Belg-producing areas of Gamo Gofa, Wolayta, Kembata, Dawro, Sidama, and Hadiya Zones. Dry harvesting has also started in limited areas of Gamo Gofa and Dawro zones as well as in Derashe Special Woreda. However, overall annual maize production in the region is likely to be much below average due to the late start and erratic performance of the rainfall in May and June, the below average utilization of inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds, and below average area planted.

    Kiremt rainfall in July and August regenerated pasture and renewed water resources. The body conditions of livestock are largely normal. There has been no report of major animal disease outbreaks in SNNPR. However, there has been the seasonally increasing caseload of trypanosomiasis in lowland areas of Gamo Gofa, Dawro, Wolayta, Kefa, and Bench Maji Zones. While control measures for trypanosomiasis are underway, continued spread of the disease is likely.

    The prices of cereals including teff, wheat, and barley, beans and peas, and roots crops such as Irish potato and kocho, a starch-product made from the enset root, remain high. In September, a few prices were slightly above prices from last year, but the price of maize declined slightly from August to September due to the start of the green harvest. The supply of grains to most local market is stable, but it has not started to increase from significant new post-harvest stocks, yet. The prices of goats and sheep have increased, probably due to high demand for Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year holiday, in September. Livestock body conditions have improved since the start of Kiremt season in June, and local demand seasonally increases from now until December 2012. Livestock prices are likely to continue increasing from October to December. The relief food for the 304,824 Belg beneficiaries has been dispatched starting in early September, but distribution to beneficiaries has not yet begun. As a result, households have intensified the green haricot bean consumption. This will reduce the total volume of the dry haricot bean harvest, and may lead to higher market prices later.

    The current better access to green cabbage and other green, leafy vegetables, the haricot bean harvest, and green maize has improved food access for much of the rural population. Conditions are likely to be stable from now up the end of this year due to the Meher harvest expected in November and December 2012. However, poor and very poor households who are dependent primarily on labor income including labor harvesting and processing coffee to fund market purchases are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), even if the allocated food aid assistance continues. Otherwise they will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity until the end of the calendar year.

    Eastern marginal Meher-producing areas

    The late Belg harvest in the Belg-dominant areas was confirmed to be below normal in almost all of the northeastern highlands. For instance, in North Wollo Zone of Amhara Region only around 8,400 metric tons (MT) of crops were obtained. In most of the eastern marginal Meher producing areas, the onset and distribution of the Kiremt rain was near normal except in partss of Wag Himra, some eastern woredas of North and South Wollo Zones in Amhara Region, Raya Azebo and Alamata Woredas, and a few kebeles in Tsead Amba and Endemehoni Woredas in Tigray Region,and Kumbi, Burka Dhimtu, Hawi, Gudina, Oda Bultum, Gole Oda, Kombolcha, and Kurfachele Woredas of West and East Hararghe Zones where rains were light and unevenly distributed. On the other hand, although the onset of the Kiremt rains was timely, the rain ceased earlier than normal in some eastern areas of North and South Wollo of Amhara Region and South Tigray Zone in Tigray Region. The early cession is expected to significantly reduce Meher production in these areas. In addition, stock borer infestation of sorghum and a chocolate spot disease (Botrytis fabae) of haricot beans are reducing yields in some woredas of South and North Wollo as well as in Endemehoni Woreda in South Tigray Zone. Also, due to pest and disease outbreaks, the planted area for haricot bean was reduced in Dessie Zuria, Jama, and Wereyilu Woredas in North Wollo Zone as well as Endemehoni Woreda in South Tigray. Some of the already palnted teff has been affected by shoot flies (Atherigona soccata) in some areas in South Wollo Zone of Amhara Region. Also, due to the delayed start of Belg rains which start as early as February but started in April this year, long-cycle maize and sorghum crops are delayed in their growth in the Belg-producing areas of eastern Amhara, eastern Tigray, and East and West Haraghe Zones of Oromia Region.

    In some pocket areas in Kelela, Borena, Tenta, Mekdela, Alboko, and Ambasel WoredaWoredas of North Wollo Zone, Kobo Woreda in South Wollo Zone, Alamata Woreda in Tigray region, and Bedeno, Doba, and Habro Woredas in West Hararghe, hailstorms and associated heavy rains have damaged the planted crops. Similarly, floods due to the above average Kiremt rainfall totals have washed away planted crops in some pocket areas in Kobo, Walda, and Gubalafto in South Wollo Zone as well as in Ambasel Woreda of North Wollo Zone in Amhara Region.

    Availability of water, pasture, and browse are leading to normal livestock conditions in most parts of Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray regions with exceptions in some kebeles in Raya Azebo, Endemehoni, Erob, and Alamata Woredas in Tigray Region. Since September is the part of lean season in the eastern Meher-producing areas, cereal prices increased further. Compared to September prices last year, the prices of cereals have shown a significant increase. For instance, a sorghum price has shown a 23% and 17% increase in Alamata and Tsead Amba Woredas of Tigray region respectively. Compared to September 2011, the zonal average retail price increase for sorghum in North Wollo zone of Amhara region is found to be  59 percent, significantly higher than underlying inflation. These price increases are affecting not only the poor and very poor households but also some middle income households. However, a significant increase in livestock prices compared to last year may be helping middle and high income households make market purchases of food. These wealth groups have a sufficient number of livestock to sell without selling draft animals or breeding stock.

    Due to the below normal Kiremt rains in some areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is likely to persist among the poor households in Wag Himra, eastern woredas of North and South Wollo zones of Amhara region, Raya Azebo, and Alamata Woredas and a few kebeles in Tsead Amba and Endemehoni Woredas of Tigray region. Areas where the Kiremt rains ceased early are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Other eastern marginal areas will improve from their current classification as Crisis (IPC phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) following the start of the Meher harvest in October.

    Afar Region and the northern zones of Somali Region

    The June to September Karan/Karma rainfall significantly improved in August and September both in Afar Region and most parts of Siti (formerly Shinile) and Fatan (formerly Jijiga) Zones in northern Somali Region. However, in most parts of Kabribeyah, the eastern and southeastern of Fatan Zone (formerly Jijiga), northern Erer, northern Siti (formerly Shinile), and parts of Ayisha Woreda, the Karan/Karma rains have been poorly distributed with long dry spells. The rains have improved water availability and recharged of the traditional water sources including birkads, ponds, and wells. Pasture has regenerated in Afar Region and most parts of northern Somali Region. These improvements have led to improvement in livestock body conditions, and livestock in Siti (formerly Shinile) Zone that had needed to migrate in search of pasture and water have returned to their normal wet season grazing areas. In areas that have had normal to above-normal Karan/Karma rains, agricultural activities in agropastoral areas are on-time and seasonally normal. However, flooding associated with above normal Karan/Karma rain has caused crop damage in Awash Fentale, Gewane, Amibara, and Burmudyto Woredas in Afar Region.

    Over all, prices of staple food commodities, particularly relief wheat, remains stable in Afar Region and Fatan (formerly Jijiga) Zone. A marginal increase in prices between August and September was observed in Siti (formerly Shinile) Zone. Some of the major markets in Afar Region had slight price increases for livestock due to the improved body conditions between July and August, improving the livestock-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT), but in Siti (formerly Shinile) zone, livestock prices are mostly stable.

    Despite the provision of relief food, the availability Therapeutic Supplementary Feeding (TSF), other humanitarian assistance, and the gradual improvement in livestock conditions, poor households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with the exception of poor households in the eastern parts who will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until December due to the cumulative effects of recurrent droughts. Regardless of the seasonal Karan rains improvement, the increase in food prices and declining livestock-to-cereal ToT will mean poor households in northern zones of Somali Region will continue facing Crisis (IPC phase 3) at least through December. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Source: FEWS NET Ethiopia

    Zonal average price of maize and sorghum in Sidama of SNNPR and North Wollo of Amhara Region, January to September 2012

    Figure 2

    Zonal average price of maize and sorghum in Sidama of SNNPR and North Wollo of Amhara Region, January to September 2012

    Source: Bureaus of Agriculture for Sidama Zone of SNNPR and North Wollo Zone of Amhara …

    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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