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Deyr harvest improves food availability, though crop production is below average

  • Key Message Update
  • Somalia
  • January 2024
Deyr harvest improves food availability, though crop production is below average

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  • Key Messages
  • Note: This Key Message Update reflects information and analysis available as of January 2024. In February 2024, FEWS NET and partners participated in a nationwide IPC analysis. FEWS NET is in the process of updating its analysis of projected acute food insecurity outcomes in consideration of data and ground information made available during the IPC. FEWS NET’s revised analysis and mapping of current and projected acute food insecurity outcomes will be available in the February Food Security Outlook report forthcoming in early March.

    Key Messages
    • Main season deyr harvesting started in January in most areas, boosting market and household food stocks. However, according to crop data collected by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) during the annual 2023/24 post-deyr seasonal assessment, main season cereal production across southern Somalia is projected to be 34 percent below the long-term average (1995-2022) and 14 percent below the five-year average. This is mainly due to the impacts of severe flooding during the October to December deyr rainy season, which affected over 50 percent of cropping land. In the badly affected Hiiraan and Gedo regions, 6,000 hectares and 2,250 hectares of standing crops, respectively, were destroyed. Most of the irrigated farms (80-95 percent), including citrus fruit farms in Gedo and Middle Shabelle regions, were also damaged due to prolonged submersion. 
    • On the other hand, flooding provided ample moisture to support off-season deyr cultivation in southern riverine and lowland agropastoral areas, which began in mid-December with the gradual recession of floodwaters. Off-season crop production is expected to be above average given the atypical flooding extent, though the total (main and off-season) deyr harvest will remain 13 percent below the long-term average. The primary off-season crops cultivated are sesame and maize intercropped with cowpea. As of January, the crops have reached development stages of growth. Harvesting of off-season cash crops (cowpea, sesame, groundnuts, onions and other vegetables) is expected to start in late February, with the off-season cereal harvest to follow in March and early April. This will increase access to food and income for households who were able to cultivate.
    • In the key reference markets of southern Somalia, retail prices of locally produced cereals (maize and sorghum) were mostly stable between December and January at levels slightly lower than the same time last year. However, prices generally remain above the five-year average, at least partially due to significantly below-average deyr crop production. By April, anticipated above-average deyr off-season harvests are expected to improve domestic cereal supply and reduce staple food prices. Meanwhile, retail prices of imported red rice in key reference markets of the central and northern regions also remained stable from December to January, though prices range from 5 to 20 percent higher than at the same time last year and 27 to 36 percent above the five-year average. Above-average prices are being driven by sustained high global rice prices and increasing fuel and freight costs. Prices are anticipated to continue trending above the five-year average through at least May 2024. 
    • Pastoral and agropastoral households continue to contend with the lasting impacts of the 2020-2023 drought – including below-average livestock holdings and atypically early depletion of 2023 gu food stocks – exacerbated by severe impacts of recent flooding on livelihoods and crop production in southern riverine and low-lying agropastoral areas. In areas worst affected by flooding, minimal to no main season deyr crop production is likely in January, preventing farming households from accessing a key seasonal source of food and income. Reduced access to typically important food and income from crop and livestock production is driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in worst drought- and flood-affected areas. 
    • Through May 2024, a general trend of improvement in food security outcomes is expected across most of Somalia due to several key seasonal factors, including: the main-season deyr harvest in January, the off-season deyr harvest in some areas in March/April, declining food prices following the deyr harvest, social support during the holy month of Ramadan in March/April, and improvements in agricultural labor opportunities and income-earning and livestock production and reproduction during the gu rainy season beginning in April. Despite some improvement, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in several rural areas, and IDP settlements will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes given severely eroded assets and livelihoods amid anticipated further assistance scale-down. Additional displacement is expected in southern areas in April and May due to flooding during the gu rainy season.
    • Households continue to experience displacement due to the impacts of recent conflict and flooding and the lasting impacts of the historic 2020-2023 drought. From December 10 to January 6, the IOM recorded nearly 45,000 new arrivals in southern Somalia. With limited access to income-generating activities and minimal productive assets, IDPs are heavily reliant on humanitarian food assistance. However, the provision of food assistance continues to be scaled down both at the national level and among IDPs despite their high levels of need. On average in the October to December 2023 period, 15 percent of registered IDPs were reached with monthly assistance, down from 19 percent in the July to September period, according to data from the Food Security Cluster. According to UNOCHA, there are approximately 3.86 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia as of January 2024.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Key Message Update January 2024: Deyr harvest improves food availability, though crop production is below average, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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