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Food security bolstered by start of second season harvests.

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • November 2012
Food security bolstered by start of second season harvests.

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Following the average to above average first season harvest from June to August, the arrival of the expected average to above average second season harvests in November and December will further increase household and market food availability. Acute food insecurity is expected to remain at the Minimal (IPC Phase 1) level.

    • The total October to January unimodal harvest in Karamoja is expected to be below average in some areas. As household stocks decline, the poor households will become Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to March 2013. However, pasture and water resources for livestock production will remain available.

    • Prices of most stable crops are expected to remain stable and in line with normal, seasonal trends. However, this includes increases in December due to high demand around the Christmas holiday.

    Current Situation

    The overall food security situation in the country remains stable. The performance of the September to December second rainy season has been average to above average so far. The average to above average rains received countrywide are providing moisture for the expected normal to above normal harvests for most staples in November and December. Owing to the staggered planting this year by farmers as early as July and August instead of in September, some fresh second season harvests have already come onto the markets for crops like beans and maize. Green consumption by households has been ongoing since the beginning of November, further increasing the availability of food for the majority of agricultural, rural households.

    Heavy rains in September and October fell in most parts of the bimodal areas supporting agricultural production. However, flooding and waterlogging were experienced in areas of Teso and Lango sub-regions and in other localized areas in eastern and southwestern Uganda. Hailstorms, waterlogging, and flooding have affected crops like cassava, groundnuts, sorghum, and millet in these areas. These areas will likely have reduced production due to crop damage. Recovery and emergency relief efforts, especially in Teso Region, have focused on assisting the people with both food and non-food relief and on repairing the sections of the road network that were rendered impassible and underwater.

    Countrywide, households renewed their food stocks from the first season harvests from June to August which had average to above average yields. Crop sales peaked in October, and now they have slightly declined. Pasture and water resources for livestock production continue to be favorable for livestock-dependent households in the cattle corridor and mixed farming households that have livestock in other areas.

    With the exception of cooking bananas and cassava chips, retail prices for the majority of the staple food continued to decline or remained stable from September to October as expected in the most likely scenario (Figure 3). Both domestic trade and export of food commodities to Kenya, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo has been uninterrupted.

    The harvest in the agricultural and agropastoral areas of Karamoja is ongoing, but it is nearing completion in most of the region. An exception is the long-cycle sorghum crops that will be harvested in January. Whereas cumulative April to October rains were average to above average for most parts of the region, intense, heavy rainfall at times and erratic rainfall distribution reduced crop production. Waterlogging affected the germination of crops like groundnuts, sesame, and maize. Some sorghum at knee height weas destroyed when wet conditions allowed fungal growth. This reduced the sorghum harvest, the staple crop, but also other crops in Kaabong, Kotido, and parts of Moroto and Nakapiripirit. While sorghum and most other crops performed poorly, the millet harvests were near normal in parts of Kotido. Millet is not a staple crop of the area, but it is an important raw material for brewing and other home-based products and commercial uses. Households have access to food from their own harvest in November. Other seasonal income sources at this time of year include sales of firewood, charcoal, grass, and building poles. Consumption of wild foods and food-for-work through developmental assistance are other important food sources for poor households in November. 

    Updated Assumptions

    Owing to largely stable conditions, the assumptions used in developing FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of October 2012 to March 2013 have not changed.

    Projected Outlook through December 2012

    Countrywide, the second season harvests for staples like beans, maize, groundnuts, sesame (simsim), sorghum, maize, and sweet potatoes are expected to increase food availability for households and supply to markets. An average to above average harvest is expected from November to January. Crop sales will resume at heavier levels as new harvests in December and January become available. While rains are forecast to continue in December, the intensity and amounts received is expected to reduce from its current levels, but remain sufficient for the grain-filling and maturity stages of the crops. Additional heavy rains have potential to cause post-harvest losses due to wetter than normal drying and storage conditions. Livestock production and milk production by livestock-dependent households will continue to be average as both pasture and water resources remain plentiful. These resources will seasonally decline as the dry season progresses.

    The total harvest for the second season are projected to be below average and less than that of last year in Kaabong, Kotido, parts of Moroto District, and localized areas of Nakapiripirit in Karamoja. Household food stocks have been replenished by the start of the unimodal harvest in October and November, but household stocks have not been sufficiently replenished to prevent deficits during the April to July lean season. Due to high prices for crops, crop sales of the available harvest may be higher than usual. This could reduce food availability at the household level over the coming months as households may sell now, but later be unable to afford market purchases.

    According to seasonal trends, the prices of staples usually remain stable in the first two weeks of December before prices increase during the increased purchases around the Christmas holiday. Although market supply is expected to remain sufficient between now and at least March, the gradual decline of the exchange rate between the Ugandan shilling (UGX) and the U.S. dollar (USD) is helping increase the price of fuel. Traders are likely to pass off their increased transaction costs for fuel onto consumers by raising the prices of food stuffs. Despite the declining trend in retail prices for most staples, prices are expected to remain relatively high and are well above last year’s prices. High regional demand from Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda for staples from Uganda coupled with the rising fuel prices means that market prices will tend to increase in line with the seasonal trends and with the increased purchases for Christmas in December.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Retail Kampala maize prices, Ugandan shilling (UGX) per kilogram (kg)

    Figure 2

    Retail Kampala maize prices, Ugandan shilling (UGX) per kilogram (kg)

    Source: MIS/FarmGain Africa Ltd.

    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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