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Gu rains end early in May in the South, slowing crop development

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • June 2015
Gu rains end early in May in the South, slowing crop development

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Agropastoral areas of Hiraan and Middle Juba will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in June and are likely to remain so through at least September. The expected below-average Gu harvest in July/August is likely to keep cereal prices higher than last year. Higher prices along with civil insecurity will continue to limit poor households’ purchasing power.

    • With only very limited income from labor, areas along the Shabelle River in Jowhar District of Middle Shabelle, and Balad of Middle Shabelle, and Sablale of Lower Shabelle, food security will likely deteriorate through September. River flooding in April destroyed planted crops and inundated prepared land. There is far less labor demand than usual in these areas.

    • In Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zone, food security will likely deteriorate as there will be very little Gu maize harvested in July. However, during the start of the Karan rains in June, planted area will likely increase. 

    Current Situation
    • From late May to mid-June, the rains subsided. Rains from June 1 to 10 were very light, outside of the Northwest. Most of the northeastern, central, and southern regions received very light showers or no rain. However, some areas received light-to-moderate rainfall though it was sporadic and of very short duration, including in parts of the North, Bakool, Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, and Hiraan. In general, the Gu rains ceased earlier than usual in late May in most of the central and southern regions.
    • The early end of Gu rains slowed crop development. Signs of moisture stress could be seen in crops in agropastoral areas in Hiraan and among replanted or late-planted crops in agropastoral areas in Bay, Bakool, and Middle Juba Regions. Most of these crops are either at the grain-filling or flowering stages. Normally timed crop development was reported in most riverine areas in Lower Shabelle, Gedo, and the Jubas. Crops are also at mostly normal stages of development in the dhasheks/swamplands in the Jubas and in most of Bay Region.
    • In the Northwest’s agropastoral areas, most of the remaining Gu maize crop is no longer developing due to moisture stress. Despite the early cessation of Gu rains, long-cycle sorghum planting is ongoing, especially in Woqooyi Galbeed Region. Flash floods from the western Golis Mountains have provided moisture for fodder production in Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone, and fodder crops are developing well. 
    • Recession cultivation of maize and cash crops has not started in the areas that flooded areas in Jowhar, Balad and Sablale Districts. Agricultural labor demand was low in May and June, and only a few crops that were planted before the floods have germinated, primarily due to the continued presence of flood waters. As a result, the lean season has been extended, locally held cereal stocks are not readily available, and cereal prices have increased.
    • Agricultural labor demand is seasonally high and stable in most of the South. The third round of weeding is ongoing. However, in flooded areas in Jowhar, Balad, and Sablale Districts, agricultural labor demand is lower. Daily wage rates were stable from April to May, but on average, they were 11 percent lower than last year in May when there was more labor demand in riverine areas.
    • Pasture availability is average to above average in most pastoral and agropastoral areas of the southern and central regions. However, pasture availability is below average in areas that have had less rain, including parts of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Sanaag, and Bari Regions. Pasture availability is also below average in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone of Lower Shabelle and the Jubas. Livestock have been migrated from these areas to neighboring areas.
    • Average-to-good livestock body conditions are observable in most areas. However, livestock body conditions among milking females have started to deteriorate in some of the areas where the rainfall was below average in the North (Figure 1). The expected medium rate of cattle calving started with some calving in June across pastoral and agropastoral areas of the South. However, thus far, the rate has been lower in Middle Shabelle.
    • The prices of locally produced cereals in markets that serve surplus-producing areas, such as Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle and Togwajale in Woqooyi Galbeed, remained stable for most of 2015 but many prices increased from April to May. Retail maize prices in Qoryoley were stable from March to May, but this was 29 percent higher than December 2014 prices, right before the below-average Deyr harvest. In Togwajale, retail sorghum prices increased by three percent from April to May, but May prices were 17 percent lower than six months ago due to better road access than last rainy season. However, in sorghum-producing areas such as Baidoa in Bay Region, sorghum prices slightly decreased from April to May. This price decrease is the result of expected near average production, as traders released more sorghum into markets from their stocks. The May Baidoa red sorghum price was 10 percent higher than last year but 28 percent lower than the five-year average.
    • Insecurity continues to limit trade, especially in Bakool, Hiraan, Middle Juba, and southern Gedo. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in the April to September 2015 Outlook as updated in the May Food Security Outlook Update. However, the following assumption has been updated:

    • In May, with a high likelihood of average rainfall, crop yield was assumed to be near average. However, with an early end of the Gu rains in May instead of June, below-average crop yields are likely in most of the South, including in Bay, Bakool, Hiraan, Middle Juba, and Middle Shabelle. 

    Projected Outlook Through September 2015
    • Based on recent short-term forecasts, the Karan rains in agropastoral areas of Awdal and Waqooyi Galbeed Regions of the Northwest are likely over the coming weeks while moderate rainfall from Xagaa showers will likely fall in Coastal Deeh pastoral livelihood zone and adjacent agropastoral areas in Lower Shabelle and the Jubas. This will likely support both standing crops as well as germination of recently planted sorghum and maize.
    • Although there have been no significant changes to the area-based acute food insecurity classifications from FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April to September 2015, food security in riverine areas of Middle Shabelle, agropastoral areas of Hiraan, and some agropastoral areas in Bay, Bakool, and Middle Juba will likely deteriorate due to the early end of the Gu rains, which will likely lead to below-average crop production.
    • The Gu cereal harvest will likely be below average in volume due to the effects of floods along the Shabelle River, especially in Jowhar, Wanlaweyne, and Sablale Districts and the early end of the rains in agropastoral areas. However, a gradual, above-average Gu off-season harvest is likely in August and September, especially in Wanlaweyne District where recessional planting in May has resulted in normal crop development. By September, market supply will likely be fairly typical. Agricultural labor opportunities will likely continue to be available through September at rates similar to what they are now, specifically in the areas where recession cultivation is ongoing. This unusually long labor season will increase poor riverine and agropastoral households’ incomes and food access.
    • In the Northwest, low rainfall led to the wilting of maize in Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zone and of short-cycle sorghum in Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone. As a result, the harvest in July will likely be below average. However, the long-cycle sorghum currently being planted is likely to have near average yields and production in November with near average to below average July to August Karan rainfall expected.
    • Similarly, projected near average Xagaa showers in June/July will help regenerate pasture, refill water points, and allow continued crop growth in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone and adjacent agropastoral areas in Lower Shabelle and the Jubas. These rains may allow continued milk production for sale and consumption and the revival of growth for some currently water-stressed crops in agropastoral areas.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cumulative March to May 2015 rainfall as a percent of the 1981-to-2010 mean, African Rainfall Climatology-2 (ARC2)

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Cumulative March to May 2015 rainfall as a percent of the 1981-to-2010 mean, African Rainfall Climatology-2 (ARC2) methodology

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

    Figure 3


    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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