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Gu crops developing normally in South-Central

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • May 2015
Gu crops developing normally in South-Central

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • In Jowhar District in Middle Shabelle and Sablale District in Lower Shabelle Region, flooding in the high-productivity riverine areas will likely lead to a below-average harvest and long delays in that harvest. This will likely increase local cereal prices, reduce agricultural labor demand, and lead to deteriorating food security outcomes between now and the delayed harvest in August.

    • In pastoral areas, increased livestock production and values will likely result in increased access to milk and meat, increased income from milk sales, and better food security between now and September. 

    • Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zone will likely have a below-average Gu maize and cash crop harvest in July. Households will likely reduce food consumption between then and the Karan harvest in October.

    Current Situation
    • In mid-April, Gu rains started in South-Central. Since the start, average to above average rainfall was received in most parts of the country. Rains have refilled water catchments, shallow wells, and communal dams in rural areas, and they have helped increase browse availability and improve grazing conditions.
    • Several areas have received less rain. The lowest amounts of rain have been in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in the Northwest and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in Bari Region in the Northeast. Rainfall has also been below average in most parts of Awdal, Bari, Sanag, and Woqooyi Galbeed Regions.
    • Heavy downpours during the last ten days of April near Galkacyo Township led to flash floods.
    • In April, the Shabelle River flooded, inundating both irrigated and lowland, rainfed farms in Jowhar District in Middle Shabelle and Wanlaweyne and Sablale Districts in Lower Shabelle. Close to 7,000 hectares (ha) of arable land was flooded. These floods destroyed harvested sesame that was still drying and cereals stored in underground pits. The flooding displaced close to 3,400 households, a little over 10 percent of the local population, and more than 50 villages are currently inaccessible to trade by road.
    • Agricultural labor demand is high and stable in most agricultural areas in the South. The second round of weeding is ongoing. Even In Jowhar, Wanalweyne, and Sablale Districts, despite the far below typical agricultural labor demand in flooded areas, agricultural labor wage rates seasonally increased from March to April by 16, 11, and 22 percent, respectively, and they were between 21 and 30 percent higher than last year, slightly increasing food access.
    • In the Northwest, mostly cash crops, such as watermelon, onion, and tomato, have been planted for harvest during Ramadan in June and July. Some maize was planted in late March, but drier conditions in April and early May have slowed growth. Despite the somewhat erratic Gu rains in agropastoral areas thus far, farmers are busy dry planting long-cycle sorghum. Some of the sorghum is in the vegetative stage, and it is typically harvested in October following the Karan rains.
    • With fairly heavy Gu rainfall during some of April and early May, crops in agricultural areas of the South are mostly at the vegetative stage. In agropastoral areas closer to the coast in Lower Shabelle and Lower Juba Regions, no crops have been planted as it has been too dry. This has also reduced opportunities for earning income from agricultural labor in these areas.
    • In Central Agropastoral livelihood zone, most of the cowpeas are approaching the flowering stage.
    • Vegetation conditions of the rangelands, as observed in the field and from the satellite-based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), have been rejuvenating well since the start of the rains and are average to above average, including in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in the Northeast and most of the central regions. However, not all coastal areas have had as much rain. Vegetation remains sparse in coastal Lower Shabelle, coastal Lower Juba, Guban Pastoral, and East and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones, and in Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone.
    • Livestock body conditions are average in most areas. However, livestock body conditions remained poor in some of the areas above with less vegetation. Camel calving has not yet started in full, but fewer were reported in April than usual. A medium to high rate of kidding and lambing occurred in both pastoral and agropastoral areas. Milk production has seasonally increased due to increased pasture and water availability and the increase in the number of lactating animals.
    • Sorghum and maize prices are seasonally stable or increased slightly between March and April, and most markets remain well supplied. This is despite the fact that many surplus-producing households keep their stocks for their own consumption once the April-to-July lean season starts. For example, the retail red sorghum price increased five percent in Baidoa, and it was stable in Qoryoley. Sorghum prices in conflict-affected parts of Bakool and Hiraan were atypically stable or declined slightly, probably due to the influx of humanitarian assistance, reducing some of the demand for cereal purchases.
    • Moderate to heavy rains in late April and early May have reduced local cereal supplied to the main markets in riverine areas. In Jowhar, for instance, the white maize price increased 21 percent from March to April. However, April sorghum and maize prices were still 13 to 15 percent below their five-year averages in riverine areas.
    • The price of essential, imported food items such as red rice, vegetable oil, wheat flour, and sugar were relatively stable or seasonally increased from March to April in most of South-Central. This is a normal occurrence during the rainy season as roads become more difficult to navigate. Most of these prices are still significantly lower than last year and their five-year averages on account of high global production, lower fuel prices for transporting goods, and stable exchange rates.
    • Livestock prices, particularly for goats and sheep, increased three to eight percent in April in the South as good rains and abundant pasture helped improve livestock body conditions and increase their values. In the northern and central regions, goat prices remained stable but were eight to 19 percent less than in 2014. This is likely due to competition from imports. Livestock imports from Ethiopia nearly doubled from March to April and were nearly double the number of last year at monitored border points. Traders are actively seeking the best quality animals for re-export, and Ethiopia currently has strong supplies. Right now, traders are stockimg for Ramadan in June and July when most of these livestock will be re-exported to the Gulf States.
    • While trade between Somalia and Ethiopia increased, cross-border trade between Kenya and Somalia decreased from March to April. In border towns, this reduces income for traders, transport workers, store owners, porters in the markets, and other businesses in these towns. For example, cereal exports from Somalia to Kenya at Doblei declined from 1,106 metric tons (MT) in March to 639 MT in April, a 42 percent decrease in volume. Livestock trade also declined. At Doblei, livestock exports, primarily cattle, went from 1,143 head in March to 468 head in April, a 59 percent decrease in volume. Along the Kenya-Somalia border, increased border security, increased enforcement of tariffs and import requirements, and an increasing number of checkpoints for screening the documents of both traders and goods, along with security operations on both sides of the border, have led to the reduced trade. 

    Updated Assumptions

    Most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April to September 2015 remain the same. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

    • In April, with a high likelihood of below-average rainfall at the start of the season, planted area was assumed to be below average. With continued average Gu rainfall likely in May, near average planted area is likely. Yields are also likely to be near average, in most areas.
    • In April, it was assumed the Gu harvest would be below average. Recessional planting is expected as flood waters recede in Jowhar District in Middle Shabelle, Wanlaweyne and Sablale Districts in Lower Shabelle, and in some areas that have been flooded since 2014 in Middle Juba. However, due to the amount of currently flooded arable land, the July primary Gu cereal harvest will likely be below average in South-Central. However, once the off-season, flood-recession Gu crops are harvested in September, availability of locally-produced cereals will return to near average. As a result, maize and sorghum prices may not seasonally decline until August or September, instead of July.
    • Based on more recent forecasts, near average to above-average Gu rains are likely to continue in the Northwest. This may allow standing crops to resume growth and facilitate the germination of long-cycle sorghum in agropastoral areas.

    Projected Outlook Through September 2015

    Although no considerable change in food security classifications is expected from FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April to September 2015, food security will likely improve in the agricultural and agropastoral areas of South-Central. With ongoing cropping, labor opportunities are likely to continue to be available through July, providing income at favorable rates. Even though the primary harvest in July will likely be below average, the off-season, recession cultivation will resupply maize and sorghum to markets, and thus, by September, prices are likely to seasonally decline. In Central Agropastoral livelihood zone, the cowpea belt, average cowpea production is likely as long as moderate amounts of Gu rain continues through late May.

    In the Northwest, the June/July maize and cash crop harvests will likely be below average due to the long dry spell in late April and early May. If the June-to-August Karan rains are near average, a near average harvest of long-cycle sorghum would occur in October. However, there is a significant risk that these rains may be below average.

    Moderate to above-average Gu rainfall was forecast through the end of May for the pastoral areas of the North that have been dry. This will likely improve both pasture and water conditions. Dry pasture then would likely be available through September. As a result, livestock production and values would likely be average. Average to good livestock body conditions and average milk availability are expected to maintain poor households’ access to both milk and market purchases through July. However, milk availability will likely seasonally decline during the dry August-to-September Xagaa season. Livestock prices are expected to increase through September as livestock export demand in the Middle East increases for Ramadan in June and July and the Hajj in September/October. Households should be able to maintain some income from livestock sales through September.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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