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Gu 2013 rains ended one month earlier than usual, decreasing agropastoral crop production

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • July 2013
Gu 2013 rains ended one month earlier than usual, decreasing agropastoral crop production

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Hiran and Central Agropastoral livelihood zone, the cowpea belt, will likely increase between July and September due to likely crop failures and the expected, below average crop production in these areas. 

    • Poor pastoral households’ food consumption and access to income in Sool Plateau and Dharoor Valley Pastoral livelihood zones in Bari Region as well as Coastal Deeh Pastoral in the central regions and Bari will likely deteriorate due to poor pasture availability, which will decrease livestock production and value during the dry July to September Hagaa season.

    Current Situation
    • The Gu 2013 rains ended a month earlier than normal in most parts of the country. The overall Gu performance was favorable, but there were large variations in terms of the amount of rain received and its temporal distribution in agricultural and pastoral areas of the South, parts of the Northwest, and the Hawd in the central regions. Average to good rains between late March and April replenished water sources in pastoral and agropastoral areas and supported pasture development. However, the July to September Hagaa dry season appears to have arrived earlier than usual in June with unusually strong, dry winds were reported across the country except for the coastal areas of Lower Shabelle and Lower Juba Regions. In those areas in late May and early June, light showers fell.
    • Exceptions to the general climactic trend were found in well below average rainfall in Bari Region, Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in the central regions, and the Shabelles. Rainfall totals have also been below average in some parts of Sanag and the central regions.
    • Following more than 20 days of dry weather and expecting to benefit from the July to August Hagaa showers in many areas, flood recession cultivation of maize and cash crops is continuing in Jowhar, Qoryoley, and Wanlaweyn Districts in the Shabelles and in more localized areas in Bay and Middle Juba. An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 flood-displaced households returned to their villages in May.
    • Agricultural labor demand is high and stable in most agricultural livelihood zones in the South, and third-round weeding is ongoing. However, in Jowhar and Wanalweyn Districts, agricultural labor demand was reduced by the excessive river and flash flooding on most riverine and rainfed farms.  In Wanleweyn, the June rate was 33 percent lower than in January during the end of the Deyr season and 18 percent lower than last year. However, with extensive recession cultivation going on in some areas such as Jowhar, the rates recovered with a 50 percent increase from May to June, after having fallen 47 percent from March to May.
    • In the Northwest, stock borer damage and moisture stress have reduced maize crop establishment. Despite the early cessation of the Gu rains in agropastoral areas, the long-cycle sorghum crop is performing relatively well on soil moisture remaining from the average to above rainfall in April and early May.
    • In Central Agropastoral livelihood zone, the prolonged dry spell in May significantly hindered the performance of the cowpea crop. It is at the start of harvesting stage, but the yields have likely been reduced by moisture stress. Similarly, the sorghum crop was hampered by severe moisture stress during the dry spell.
    • Significant pasture deterioration was observed in pastoral areas in Bari, some parts of Sool, Sanag, Mudug, and in the Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in the central regions.
    • The prices of locally produced cereals in surplus-producing markets, such as Baidoa in Bay Region and Togwajale in Woqooyi Galbeed Region, remained stable but increased from April to June. The sorghum price stability from March to June is the result of reduced trade flows into and out of surplus-producing areas. Farmers started releasing their stocks to the markets in May, expecting more supply to arrive as dirt roads typically dry up and become passable by mid-June. However, maize-producing markets in towns such as Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle Region, maize prices are increasing. This price increases since March are the result of expected below normal maize production due to reduced area planted. The upper-middle and better-off households preferred to plant cash crops such as sesame due to the high costs of inputs and lower profit margins for cereal crops.
    • In the southern, central, and northeastern markets, essential imported commodity prices continued to either decline or remained stable in most markets from April to June as a result of the mostly stable Somali shilling (SOS) and U.S. dollar (USD) exchange rates. The Banadir and Shabelle Valley trade basins exhibited the highest price declines of four to 16 percent from January to June due to their proximity to the port in Mogadishu. However, in the Shabelles, prices are higher than last year for wheat flour and rice.
    • Annual price changes in Somali shilling (SOS)-using markets from May 2012 to June 2013 indicate that the prices of most imported commodities declined, on account of an appreciating shilling (SOS). Similarly, imported food prices in the Somaliland shilling-using areas remained stable or slightly decreased from May 2012 to June 2013 as supplies from the port in Berbera continued to arrive at a normal pace into these markets
    • Livestock prices and cross-border trade continue to follow normal, seasonal trends.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April to September 2013 as updated in the May 2013 Food Security Outlook Update. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

    • In April, it was assumed that the June to August Hagaa rains would have near normal rainfall totals. Based on the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) and other forecasts, this assumption has been revised to the June to August Hagaa rains in coastal areas and neighboring inland areas in Lower Juba, Middle Juba, and Lower Shabelle Regions.
    • In April, it was assumed that the June to September Karan rains would have near normal rainfall totals with a near normal timing of the onset of the rains. Most of this assumption stands, but it is revised to having slightly above average total rainfall in the receiving areas in Awdal Region, based on more recent forecasts.
    • The gradual Gu off-season harvest in August and September is likely to be above average due to the high area planted using recession cultivation. Dry weather in June allowed the planting of additional area for the off-season harvest in Jamame District in Lower Juba, Kurtunwarey and Wanlaweyn Districts in Lower Shabelle, and Jowhar District in Middle Juba.
    • In April, it was expected that due to average Gu rainfall and average area planted, an average Gu crop harvest was likely in July 2013. Due to the early cessation of Gu rains coupled with continued dry weather being forecast, the overall volume of the Gu harvest in July in southern Somalia is likely to be below average. The sorghum crop in Hiran Agropastoral livelihood zone is likely to be particularly poor, with crop failure evident or imminent on many farms. Dry weather in June is also expected to have reduced yields for the late planted or replanted and flood recession crops in the South and the long-cycle sorghum in the Northwest.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013
    • Although there have been no significant changes to the area-based food security classifications from FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April to September 2013, food security in agropastoral areas of Hiran will likely deteriorate due to the negative impact of the long dry spell in May and the early cessation of the Gu rains, which will likely reduce crop production.
    • Similarly, the Gu cereal harvest will be likely be below average in terms of overall volume due to the effects of floods in some districts of the Shabelle regions, especially in Jowhar, Wanlaweyn, and Kurtunwarey Districts along with some parts of Jamame District in Lower Juba Region and localized areas of Qansahdhere District in Bay Region and Teyeglow Districts in Bakol Regions. However, a gradual, above average Gu off-season harvest in August and September is likely to sustain normal market availability for cereals as there will be fresh supplies reaching markets, continuously, from July to September due to both Gu production and the off-season. Agricultural labor opportunities will likely be available through September at rates similar to what they are now, specifically in the areas were recession cultivation is ongoing. This unusually long labor season will increase poor households’ food access in both riverine and agropastoral areas.
    • In the Northwest, there is some damage from stock borer infestation in maize, and this will likely slightly reduce the harvest volume in July. The short-cycle sorghum crop in Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone though has performed well, and near average production volume is expected. The prospect of a near average long-cycle sorghum harvest in October is increasing likely due to the projected near average July to August Karan rains. In the cowpea belt, Central Agropastoral livelihood zone, below average cowpea production is expected due to the early cessation of the Gu rains meaning that a 40 day dry spell occurred in May and early June.
    • Due to poor pasture and water availability and expected low camel calving between June and July, Sool Plateau and Dharoor Valley Pastoral livelihood zones in Bari as well as the Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in both the central regions and Bari will likely face poor milk availability and access from July to September.
    • Due to below normal and unevenly distributed rainfall in late March and April followed by a long dry spell throughout May, severe moisture stress has hampered the development of the sorghum crop in Hiran Agropastoral livelihood zone. Most of the sorghum crop has wilted, and crop failure is likely in July. As a result, local cereal prices are expected to increase due to rising demand in all consumer markets in the central and northeastern regions, which receive white sorghum sourced in  Beletweyn.
    • Income from agricultural labor for the remainder of the season is expected to be well below normal as even better off farmers quit investing additional efforts into their farms. Low cattle calving is expected during June/July, resulting in lower than usual milk consumption and income from milk sales. To save milking animals and their offspring, some households have migrated to neighboring areas in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Hiran. Due to these factors and insecurity in the region, which reduces access to income and increases staple food prices, poor households’ purchasing power is likely to deteriorate and the number of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will likely increase between July and September with the possibility of an even larger increase from October to November during the minor agropastoral lean season.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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