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Harsh jilaal conditions damage off-season cereals, production below-anticipated

  • Key Message Update
  • Somalia
  • March 2024
Harsh jilaal conditions damage off-season cereals, production below-anticipated

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In March, off-season deyr cereal production is supporting slightly improved access to food and income in riverine and agropastoral lowland areas in some southern regions. However, according to preliminary findings from FEWS NET’s jilaal impact assessment in March and in consultation with FSNAU field analysts, total off-season crop production is a third lower than initially estimated. In riverine areas, approximately 10,100 metric tons (MT) of off-season maize were harvested, which is less than anticipated, but higher than the five-year average. Gedo, Middle Shabelle, and Hiiraan regions saw the most significant off-season crop losses due to delayed floodwater recession and sustained waterlogging, crop pests and diseases, and atypically high jilaal dry season temperatures in some areas. Alternatively, in the agropastoral lowlands, sorghum production was over 20 percent higher than initially anticipated, driving a decline in sorghum prices. While off-season production mitigated some of the crop losses from the 2023 deyr floods, the total 2023/2024 deyr cereal production (main and off-season) was below-average. 
    • The January to March jilaal dry season was characterized by above-average temperatures and drier than normal conditions, particularly in the south. This expedited the seasonal drying of pastures and water sources in some areas, though the above-average 2023 deyr rainfall sustained near- to above-average vegetation conditions in southern and central regions through the end of March. Dry pastures and water availability were generally sufficient for livestock grazing, supporting average to slightly above average livestock body conditions through the jilaal dry season. Widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist across most pastoral areas, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes anticipated in the central and coastal pastoral livelihood zones due to low livestock holdings and high levels of debt from the 2020-2023 drought.
    • Land preparation and planting for the April-June gu cropping season commenced in agropastoral areas of the south, central, and northwest and some riverine areas in March. Poor households are generally benefiting from normal agricultural labor opportunities, except for in riverine areas, where the residual impacts of the 2023 deyr flooding (including sustained waterlogging and damaged irrigation infrastructure) are limiting gu cultivation activities. Additionally, some farmers are reportedly delaying planting in anticipation of gu flooding in riverine areas. According to updated international forecasts, cumulative April to June gu rainfall is most likely to be above average, with localized areas of average rainfall, increasing the likelihood of flooding in riverine areas with open river breakages. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are expected through September in the riverine and agropastoral livelihood zones worst affected by the impacts of the 2023 deyr floods and where further flooding is anticipated during the 2024 gu. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely to persist in the Riverine Pump Irrigation livelihood zone of Gedo region through May where households have depleted food stocks, lost productive assets, and face limited financial access to food.
    • The retail price of local cereals was above average in most of the country in March due to low market supply from key production regions. In Qorioley market of Lower Shabelle region, maize prices were 10,250 Somali shillings (SOS) per kilogram (kg) in March, consistent with February and last March, but 21 percent higher than the five-year average due to the low market supply from the poor deyr maize production in riverine areas in the south. In central and northern regions, maize and sorghum prices were stable but 20 to 30 percent higher than last year and average due to limited supply from the south and Somali region of Ethiopia. However, in Baidoa, sorghum prices averaged 7,000 SOS/kg in March, 34 percent lower than in February and 18 percent below last year and the five-year average prices. This is attributable to the favorable deyr off-season sorghum harvests, particularly in Bay region. Meanwhile, imported food prices (vegetable oil, wheat flour, and rice) were moderately above average in March due to increased demand during Ramadan as well as higher import costs linked to increased port taxes and rising shipping costs associated with insecurity in the Red Sea.
    • According to data from the Somalia Food Security Cluster (FSC), approximately 2.4 million people received emergency humanitarian food assistance in February 2024. This is roughly a 30 percent increase compared to the number of people reached in January (1.8 million), partially mitigating the impacts of below-average deyr harvests and the long-term impacts of the 2023 deyr flooding and 2020-2023 drought. However, the population reached in February remains only 55 to 60 percent of the total population that FEWS NET assesses is in need of urgent assistance to prevent food consumption gaps and protect livelihoods. In particular, among households living in settlements for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Baydhaba, Xudur, Gaalkacyo, and Laascanood—where income-earning opportunities are extremely limited—food assistance has been insufficient to mitigate food consumption gaps, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are anticipated to persist through at least May 2024. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Key Message Update March 2024: Harsh jilaal conditions damage off-season cereals, production below-anticipated, 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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