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Above average seasonal performance suggests favorable harvest

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • May 2013
Above average seasonal performance suggests favorable harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Above average performance of the first growing season will likely result in average to above average harvests in June/July. 

    • Food security outcomes remain favorable for bimodal areas of the country. Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected in bimodal areas through September 2013. However, the residual effects of below average harvests and income levels from last season (July-October) continue to drive IPC Phase 2 Stress levels of food insecurity during the lean season in both agropastoral and pastoral zones of Karamoja.  Phase 2 outcomes are expected in these areas through June/July.

    • Decreasing market supply of staple foods in bimodal areas is leading to a general seasonal increase in nominal retail prices.  Price levels are expected to remain below or slightly elevated compared to 2012 prices throughout the outlook period until June/July harvests boost market supply and meet demand.

    Current Situation
    • Normal to above normal rainfall: Most regions have experienced the timely onset of the first seasonal rains, which typically begin between Mid-March and early April. Normal to above average rainfall was received as projected by the updated seasonal forecast for April-May by the Ugandan Meteorological Department.  From mid-April to mid-May, much of the country received 80 to 150 percent of normal rainfall (CPC RFE V2.0 and ARC). Declining rainfall amounts were received in the last two weeks of May as the seasonal rains winds down on time.  The highest end of seasonal rainfall amounts are expected in South Western, Eastern and the North Eastern parts of the country. However, for the unimodal Karamoja region, rains are yet to peak before they considerably decline seasonably in June.  To-date, cumulative rainfall in Karamoja is higher than each of the last 3 years during the same period and the long term mean.
    • Flooding in Mt. Rwenzori sub-region:  Localized flooding and water logging occurred following heavy rains in the Mt Rwenzori sub-region, especially in the Kasese, Kabarole, Ntoroka and Bundibujo districts at the beginning of May. Temporary displacement camps established in Kasese have been closed and the affected areas are transitioning from emergency to recovery phases. Destruction of roads, bridges may interrupt flow of food commodities causing temporary shortage in urban areas. The extent of crop area damaged by water logging and potential impacts on food security this season is yet to be assessed.
    • Normal seasonal progress: Water availability for crop production as measured by the Soil Water Index (SWI) shows satisfactory levels (50-90 percent) for 90 percent of cropped areas, with stress levels (10-50 percent) presenting primarily in the pastoral rangelands of Kurihura, Sembabule, Bukomansibi, and Lyantonde districts. Currently, weeding and field maintenance are underway as crop growth progresses normally leading up to the June/July harvest period.  Water requirements for most cereals are average to good (WRSI 80-99 percent) countrywide. Across most of the lower half of the country, in the central and south western districts, 45-75 percent of sowed crops are at the reproductive stage while in the North West, North East and central region around Lake Kyoga around 15-45 percent of crops are in the vegetative stage.  Normal to above average harvests are expected in these areas.
    • Favorable livestock production conditions: Good pasture and water availability continue to favor above average body conditions for livestock, and milk production is at normal levels across the country.  
    • Nominal price increases for food staples: While prices in March were lower than usual, April retail prices increased moderately in nominal terms for several staples across markets, following seasonal declines in both market and household stocks. These increases were most notable for bananas in Mbarara (42%) and in Kampala (22%), sorghum in Soroti (15%) and Lira (17%), millet in Lira (12%) and Soroti (10%), maize in Masindi (10%), beans in Lira, Mbarara and Gulu markets (3-11%). This increase is consistent with seasonal variations observed during this time of year as household stocks decline, resulting in less marketable supply. Price volatility may be somewhat influenced by surging demand from traders of South Sudan and Kenya. However, prices of most staples were the same or remained below the price levels observed last year at the same time. Markets remain sufficiently supplied with most staples and poor households are expected to access sufficient food from the market to meet their basic needs.
    • Stable food security in most areas, with the exception of  Karamoja: Following normal to above normal second season harvests in most bimodal areas, households are able to meet basic food needs and maintain their current livelihoods and continue to remain at Minimal or None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. However the pastoral and agropastoral zones of the Karamoja region remain at Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) levels (Figure 1) as a result of the poor to below average harvests from the 2012 season due to waterlogging and widespread fungal disease that affected sorghum (main staple crop). Where as normally during this time of year, households access about 40 percent of their food through market purchases, households currently have increased market dependence to about 60 percent with available coping strategies. Below normal income levels, compounded by lower food stocks to meet needs during an early start (2-3 months) to the lean season, as well as reduced livestock holdings for household sale are constraints to food access.  In order to meet food needs, households are currently adopting potentially destructive coping strategies, such as unsustainable sale of livestock and charcoal production.   

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation in both bimodal and unimodal areas continues to be stable, and  the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the period of April to September 2013 remain valid. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the January to June 2013 Food Security Outlook.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Stable food security outcomes will continue in most of the country, although household food stocks will decline seasonably until the first main harvest in June/July. Reduced market supply combined with sustained local and regional demand for food staples will continue to gently increase food prices across markets in line with seasonal trends until significant new supplies replenish stocks. Already some green harvest and consumption of beans is available on the market from farmers who planted early, particularly in the wetter low lands of Eastern Uganda around the Lake Victoria basin and South Western Uganda. Prospects for first season harvests from other staples, such as maize, cassava, sorghum, irish potatoes and bananas, are expected to be favorable. Pursuit of normal seasonal livelihood activities and average income levels triggered by the rainy season will allow the continuation of IPC Phase 1 Minimal food insecurity (Figure 2) in the majority of the country.  In Karamoja, food security outcomes will remain unfavorable with more than 20 percent of the households in IPC Phase 2: Stress, having absorbed negative coping strategies for 2-3 additional lean months of increased market dependence despite atypically low income levels.  IPC Phase 2 levels of food insecurity are expected to continue through the end of the lean season in June/July and ease into IPC Phase 1 Minimal levels in August as households consume green harvests.

    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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