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Delayed green harvest; Karamoja lean season likely to extend until September

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • June 2015
Delayed green harvest; Karamoja lean season likely to extend until September

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Key Messages
    • In Karamoja, the typical July green harvest will likely arrive late, in September/October, extending the lean season by four months. Below average rainfall since May has retarded crop development for those planted in March/April. Crop yield for the first planting may not improve even with unseasonal rains in June, however most farmers are hopeful for the average to above average rain forecast from June to August. Farmers have planted a second crop, which will likely provide green harvest by September/October.

    • While livestock to sorghum terms of trade (TOT) are favorable, firewood, charcoal, and labor wage to sorghum have declined as additional households turn to this as a coping strategy. Poor households do not have enough income to maintain adequate food access in Kaabong, Moroto, and northern parts of Nakapiripirit. Staples remain available on the market at stable prices, but limited purchasing power will likely keep at least 20 percent of the poor in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September.

    • A near average harvest is expected across bimodal areas, ongoing from June until August. Food availability is expected to increase in the markets and households. Prices are expected to stay low and stable through September, maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    Current Situation
    Bimodal areas:
    • The start of the first season harvests in mid-June has improved food availability. Harvests were delayed by two to three weeks due to below-average rainfall, particularly in eastern and central bimodal areas. Harvesting is currently underway, replenishing household food stocks and market supply. Main crops include: beans, maize, cassava, sweet potato, and Irish potatoes. Prices at this time are slightly above last year’s, however, the poor are able to access cheap substitutes like cassava, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Food availability is expected to increase through August, as harvesting continues.
    • The central cattle corridor districts of Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Kaliro, Sembabule, and Lyantonde have been drier than normal. Pasture availability is currently near-normal, and livestock body conditions are average. However, atypical dryness is likely to cause early depletion of pasture and water resources in August before the second season rains start in September. 

    Unimodal Karamoja:

    • Green harvests, expected in July, will likely be below-average, due to delayed crop development and late planting. Green harvests are expected to begin two months later than normal in September due to delayed planting caused by erratic early season rainfall. In areas where farmers planted in March/April, a dry spell from mid-May to early June caused moisture stress and compromised crop development across the region, particularly in Kaabong, Moroto, Kotido, and the northern areas of Nakapiripirit. Below-average yields are expected in these areas, despite improved rainfall in June.
    • With the steady, light rainfall in Karamoja in mid-June, widespread ploughing, planting, and weeding occurred among more than 50 percent of the households. Most farmers reopened their fields, ploughed, and planted for the first time this season in June, increasing labor demand and income earning opportunities for the poor. June to August rainfall is expected to be average to above-average in the Western Mixed Crop Zone and below average in the Central Sorghum and Livestock Zone. Harvests are expected in September/October and likely to be 60 to 70 percent of average.
    • Pasture and water resources and livestock body conditions are near-average and likely to improve with the June rains, except in Moroto, Kotido, and Kaabong where pasture conditions were slightly below normal.
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) persists in parts of Kaabong, Moroto, and Nakapiripirit Districts. Poor households without livestock to sell, which may include nearly 50 percent of the poor and very poor, remain the most vulnerable to acute food insecurity. The typical end of the lean season is in July with the green harvest. However, this year crop production is delayed and food production will likely be available in September/October. Households have increased wild food consumption, food loans, sharing food, begging, and firewood and charcoal sales to supplement the agricultural labor that is has been below average, but household food consumption is still inadequate.



    The assumptions that were used to develop FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the period of April to September 2015 remain valid. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the April to September 2015 Food Security Outlook.


    In Karamoja, delayed crop development and late planting will likely extend the lean season by up to three months, until September/October. Seasonal outcomes this year depend on the performance of the July to August rains and the extent of moisture stress during any intermittent dry spells which typically occur in June and July and toward the end of the season. In the Western Mixed Cropping Zone of Abim, Napak, Nakapiripirit, and parts of Kaabong, crop production outcomes are expected to be 60 to 70 percent of normal for sorghum, maize, and sunflower due to the increased likelihood of average to above average rains through September. Cassava will likely be available normally in these wet areas. The Central Sorghum and Livestock Zone, where rains are expected to remain below-average, harvests will likely be 40 percent of average. Incomes remain below average for the poor, and are likely to continue through September. Household debt from food purchase may erode household food access after the harvest, if households sell their crops to pay back their loans.

    At least 20 percent of the poor will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September. As food access increases with the arrival of the green harvest by October, more than half of these households will move from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Malnutrition is expected to remain within the historical levels throughout this period.

    Bimodal harvests have increased food availability nationwide. Some of the central and eastern areas will have a two to three week delay until late July/August for the start of green harvests. However, food is available through the 2014 food stocks and surplus production from other regions whose harvests are ongoing. Most bimodal areas will have normal production and income to obtain food and other necessities, without engaging in any atypical coping strategies. Most households will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through September. Staple prices are expected to follow the seasonal trend, declining to the post-harvest low prices. Most poor households will maintain adequate food access without engaging in any atypical coping strategies and continue with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through September 2015.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Projected food security outcomes, June 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Projected food security outcomes, July to September 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 4


    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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