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Good first season harvests countrywide

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • August 2012
Good first season harvests countrywide

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Both bimodal and unimodal areas of the country have had normal to above-normal seasonal harvests. Harvesting of most food staples is completed or nearly over in areas where planting was delayed. Due to the expectation for above-average harvests in most areas, minimal to no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected throughout Uganda during the Outlook period.  

    • The onset of the second season rains appears to have started, and some farmers have already planted to take advantage of the early rains.  Assuming a normal continuation of the season, early second season harvests are therefore expected.  

    • The food security outlook for the Karamoja region remains favorable since the region has experienced normal to above-average rainfall. Pasture and water resources are still sufficient for livestock-dependent households. The rainfall has also been sufficient for crop production, and harvests are expected at the end of September.

    • As a result of the favorable harvests for most staple crops, prices have significantly declined following the supply of first season fresh harvests and the release of old stocks by traders. Banana prices have dramatically declined and are 64 percent below last year’s prices in Mbarara. Bean prices have also declined by about 15 to 34 percent compared to last year. Prices are expected to further decline through October, in line with seasonal trends.  


    Updated food security outlook through December 2012

    The food security scenario projections detailed in the July Outlook remain valid.  Overall, bimodal areas have had unseasonal rains in the months of July and August, a typically dry period that allows for harvesting and other post-harvest activities.  The cumulative rains received have been normal to above-normal. This has been conducive for land preparation activities where harvesting was already complete while in other areas this has prompted early planting to take advantage of the rains. The expectations for normal seasonal trends for rainfall and synchronization of activities for the outlook period remain valid.

    Harvesting for a wide variety of staples, such as beans, maize, bananas, simsim, groundnuts, sorghum and millet, has been ongoing for most parts of the bimodal areas, except for the highland districts in eastern Uganda where the harvesting of maize is yet to begin. Markets have been sufficiently supplied with newly harvested commodities while other households struggle to dry and store their produce amidst the on-going rains. Currently most parts of the country are experiencing reduced food prices for key staple foods resulting from the good first season harvest.

    The Acholi region is currently at the beginning of the minor rainy season. The month of August into September will be characterized by land preparation and planting for sorghum, groundnuts, simsim, maize and beans. Harvesting from the first season is ongoing. Other livelihood activities for the region during the outlook period include off-farm labor, petty trade, cross-border trade and milk production for the wealthier households. Currently food prices have been high, especially for sorghum and cassava, in line with typical season trends.  Prices are expected to decline as harvests begin to replenish the depleted food stocks. Minimal to no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected.

    The scenario outlook for the Karamoja region has continued to play out as expected. The region has experienced normal to above average rainfall while cumulative rainfall amounts have been relatively higher than last year. This has assured good rangeland conditions for the availability of pasture and water resources, which are expected to be adequate up to the end of the scenario period in December. Currently the grazing of livestock is taking place around the homesteads. Household access to milk and other livestock products like ghee and butter is expected up to the end of September when the milk production becomes low. Access to production of own crops will continue to be important during this time, while harvesting will continue (August-September) to replenish food stocks. Green consumption of maize, availability of wild vegetables, and white ants will supplement food sources as the long rains come to an end in September. Additional income sources will come from crop sales in September to December.

    Cereal prices in Karamoja are expected to be relatively low after the harvest in October. Trading activities are expected to behave normally except for the deterioration of roads to the region, especially from the eastern part of Uganda, a surplus production area on which Karamoja depends for food during the lean season (December-March). Since no significant loss of livestock assets due to disease outbreaks has been experienced, both the agro-pastoral and pastoral households are expected to fully recover from the lean season that ended in July to be able to attain full livelihood potential.

    Because of the continued harvesting period, food prices of major food staples have continued to decline to levels below the previous year; the wholesale price of the cooking banana in Mbarara sharply declined by as much as 64 percent, and bean prices have declined by 15 to 34 percent compared to July prices. Bean prices in Lira and Gulu are below last year’s prices for the same period. The record low prices for matoke will likely cease at the end of August as the supply reduces considerably following the end of the transient dry conditions that boost banana maturation and ripening. The eastern districts in Busogo and Bunyoli regions have had a bumper harvest of maize, which has promoted the lucrative export trade to Kenya. The market surplus as the harvesting season progresses, particularly in eastern Uganda, will maintain low prices coupled by the fact that maize harvesting for the long rains season in Kenya is progressing.

    Food export from Uganda to Kenya and South Sudan will continue, and is likely to increase since local demand is insufficient to consume all the bumper harvest for maize and beans on the market. Currently, maize is the preference for commodity traders since regional demand is high compared to other commodities. Prices for millet, cassava and sorghum have been increasing over the last three months due to the high demand as well as the poor drying conditions, but are expected to decline slightly as the harvesting begins in the Northern Uganda producing districts of Arua, Soroti and Lira. 

    Since households in both the bi-modal and unimodal areas are expected to access adequate food supplies and incomes from crop sales as the scenario period progresses,  the country has been classified as ‘no or minimal acute food insecurity’ (IPC phase 1) through the duration of the Outlook period (Figures 1 and 2). The short-term instability in food sources that was being experienced among pockets of poor households that were less than 20 percent of the population is now clearing as food stocks are replenished. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar

    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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