Skip to main content

First season crop production expected to lead to improved food security outcomes in June/July

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Uganda
  • February - September 2022
First season crop production expected to lead to improved food security outcomes in June/July

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In Karamoja, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to remain widespread during the lean season through at least July, driven by below-average 2021 crop production, insecurity related to livestock raids/thefts, below-normal household income, and declining terms of trade. Above-average rainfall forecast from April to September is expected to support a timely start to the harvest in July. This will boost food availability, driving seasonal declines in staple food prices. Given this and increased availability of food for own consumption, outcomes are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in August and September.

    • In bimodal areas, off-season rainfall in the central and western regions is supporting early field preparation activities for the first season. Given the above-average March-May rainfall forecast, near-average to above-average crop and livestock production is expected to support normal seasonal access to food and income, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes expected through September. However, in the greater northern Uganda, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are now expected to persist through June given the impacts of two consecutive below-average crop production seasons.  

    • In refugee settlements, area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected in the presence of food assistance covering 40-70 percent of beneficiaries’ kilocalorie needs. A slightly greater number of households than usual are likely unable to meet their needs without engaging in negative coping strategies, especially among refugees in southwestern settlements that experienced ration cuts in November 2021. Some households, though less than 20 percent of the refugee population, are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. In May/June, food availability will increase with the harvest and prices will likely decline, improving food security outcomes for many households, though area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected to persist through September.


    Current Situation

    Seasonal agricultural and livestock production: Typically, January-February is a dry season during which most rural households in bimodal areas of Uganda are consuming own-produced crops from the second season harvest in November-December. Following the below-average rainfall received during the October-December 2021 second rainy season (Figure 1), production of cereals and perennial crops – such as bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, and Irish potatoes – in the 2021 second season harvest ranged from near average to below five-year average levels, with the greater northern Uganda registering the most significant deficits. Overall, the national surplus of food is less than usual.

    Since the start of the year, light to moderate rainfall has been received during the dry season, with cumulative rainfall above average in much of the southern half of the country and with near normal drier conditions in the north. However, spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall has been uneven (Figure 2). Northern Uganda received unevenly distributed light rains in mid-January, while Central and Western Uganda received light to moderate rains in February. From late 2021 to late January 2022, land surface temperatures were generally above average by up to 7 degrees Celsius in widespread northern and eastern areas, with Teso, Karamoja, and Lango experiencing the hottest temperatures. As a result, drier than usual conditions lead to atypically early deterioration of pasture and water resources and below-average conditions through mid-January 2022. However, in February temperatures have been below average. According to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from satellite data, vegetation conditions are now near seasonally low levels in mid-February (Figure 3). Livestock body conditions have been slightly below average in areas of the cattle corridor where rangeland resources have been below average, mostly in the central and greater northern Uganda. In the cattle corridor districts that experienced water shortages, like Nakasongola and parts of Kiboga, Nakaseke, Luwero, and Ntoroko, productivity of meat and milk output has been less than usual.

    In February, an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) lead to a livestock quarantine (prohibiting livestock movement) and the closure of livestock markets in Rakai and Kyotera districts. FMD is endemic to these areas of the cattle corridor, and outbreaks are frequent. As a result, households lose income due to inability to sell their livestock, impacting household livelihoods and wellbeing. Reasons for the recuring outbreaks include low livestock vaccination rates caused by low supplies of genuine veterinary drugs, movement of cattle across the Tanzanian border, and sharing of grazing areas in the national park.

    COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery: Since January, restrictions on most sectors of economic activity have been fully lifted. This follows a significant decrease in COVID-19 incidence and improved coverage of vaccination against the virus. According to the Bank of Uganda monetary policy statement for February 2022, the high-frequency indicators (indices) of economic activity between October 2021 and January 2022 suggest a strong economic rebound in both domestic and external demand relative to the previous period. Alongside this recovery, there has been a marked increase in the availability of income-generating activities that is supporting households’ access to income and facilitating their ability to purchase both food and non-food items for their normal living. Despite these improvements, high fuel prices since December have resulted in an increase in the prices of some basic food and non-food items such as sugar, cooking oil, wheat flour, and soap, which are limiting improvements in purchasing power. High fuel prices are also expected to be straining those livelihood activities dependent on fuel, such as in the transportation sector.

    Markets and trade: In the fourth quarter of 2021, export levels of maize and beans remained below the five-year average, while exports of sorghum were above average. Maize and sorghum exports to South Sudan were above average following measures taken by the South Sudanese government in 2020/2021 which have improved availability of hard currency and the stability of the exchange rate, facilitating imports. However, maize exports to Kenya fell precipitously, reducing fourth quarter regional maize trade compared to average levels due to increasing competitiveness of Tanzanian maize in Kenya. Uganda’s sorghum exports accounted for 94 percent of the region’s total sorghum trade, with increased exports driven by significant demand from South Sudan. Ugandan bean exports accounted for 95 percent of the region’s total exports, with South Sudan and Kenya importing 83 percent and 17 percent, respectively, of Uganda’s total bean exports. Overall, however, there was a reduction in regional trade of beans due to below-average rainfall and production levels in the region.

    In January, retail prices of beans and cassava in bimodal areas were generally near average or below average in monitored markets due to increased availability from 2021 second season harvests. However, due mainly to reduced production levels, sorghum prices were significantly above the five-year average in January, while maize prices were either near or slightly above average (Figure 4). Retail prices of most staples increased moderately compared to the same time last year, though prices of beans were lower (Figure 5).

    In Karamoja, households continue to rely on the market as a primary source of food, following below-average crop production and early exhaustion of below-average household stocks in late 2021. Neighboring districts of Kapchorwa, Mbale, Soroti, and Lira continue to supply markets in the Karamoja region with maize, beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, Irish potatoes, matooke, sorghum, and rice. From December to January, prices of sorghum remained stable or declined by 3 to 15 percent in monitored Karamoja markets. However, prices of sorghum in January were significantly above average and higher than last year in the northern districts of Moroto, Kotido, and Kaabong. In Nakapiripirit and Napak, where production was relatively better, prices of sorghum in January were similar to or lower than last year and average levels. Mixed price trends across Karamoja are contributing to varying levels of purchasing power, as discussed in detail in the Karamoja “area of concern” section below.

    In bimodal areas, atypical light to locally moderate rains during the dry season are supporting land preparation activities, providing agricultural labor opportunities for some. Households are also earning income from other typical livelihood activities including petty trading and the sale of crops, poultry, animal products, and crafts, with income-earning generally expected to be improving alongside overall economic recovery. While household- and market-level food stocks from last season are generally expected to be lower than usual, households’ remaining food stocks and income from typical activities are likely to be sufficient to support most households’ ability to meet their food and essential non-food needs, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes expected in most bimodal areas. However, in northern Uganda, new field reports suggest worse crop production levels than previously expected, including some reports of crop failure in Teso and surrounding regions. It is expected that many poor households have exhausted below-normal food stocks. Key informants report that crop sales are not occurring as normal, with some households selling assets to compensate for the below-normal food and income from crop production. Overall, in northern bimodal areas, many poor households are likely to be struggling to afford non-food items, with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes now expected to remain widespread in northern Uganda in February.

    In Karamoja, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to be prevalent in most of the region due to below-normal 2021 crop production, low access to income-generating activities in 2021, and elevated food prices since late last year. In areas where low food availability is being exacerbated by atypically declining terms of trade and limited income-earning (such as Moroto, Kotido and Kaabong), some worst-affected households are likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Consumption gaps are increasing as the lean season progresses, expected to be contributing to seasonally high levels of acute malnutrition among children. In-depth analysis on Karamoja is provided in the “area of concern” section of the report.

    According to UNHCR/OPM, Uganda hosted 1,582,892 refugees and asylum seekers as of January 31, 2022.  Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected in the presence of humanitarian assistance, with many of the worst-affected households (though less than 20 percent of the overall population) likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In-depth analysis on refugees in settlements is provided in the “area of concern” section.


    The most likely scenario for the February to September 2022 projection period is based on the following key national-level assumptions:

    • According to international forecasts, cumulative rainfall during the March-May 2022 first rainy season in bimodal Uganda is expected to be above average. Land surface temperatures are generally expected to be above average before the onset of rains in March and near average thereafter through September, although localized anomalies are possible.
    • Given the forecast for above-average rainfall, first season crop production levels (of cereals and legumes, as well as typical perennial crops such as tea, coffee, sugarcane, and bananas) are expected to be average to above average (though this depends on the timing and distribution of rainfall) and restore typical household and market food stock levels in June/July. Green harvest consumption is expected in May/June, starting in the south. Market supplies and household food stocks in bimodal areas are likely to be near typical levels from June to September.
    • Availability of agricultural labor opportunities is expected to increase from February to April for land preparation, planting, and weeding activities. However, availability of agricultural labor opportunities will likely be less than typical in areas where 2021 production was poor (especially in the greater north and in Karamoja) due to constrained ability to hire labor. On-farm wage rates likely to remain normal.
    • Income from first season crop sales will likely be near normal and slightly higher than the previous two consecutive seasons, especially in the north. However, some households in areas affected by floods and landslides in October to December 2021 will likely experience below-average crop production and incomes given damage to agricultural land, reduced ability to invest in agricultural inputs, and reduced ability to hire labor.
    • In August and September 2022, cumulative rainfall during the start of the second rainy season (September to December) in bimodal Uganda is expected to be sufficient for agricultural activities given forecasts for average to above average rainfall, with the season expected to start on time. However, uncertainty exists due to the long lead time of the forecast.
    • Given expectations for rainfall, pasture conditions and water resources for livestock production are expected to improve from late March/April through May, reaching above-average levels in the southwestern cattle corridor districts. In the northeastern districts including central areas and the Karamoja region, significant improvement to above-average conditions is expected. Below-average livestock body conditions and seasonally lower milk production are expected in the Karamoja region and most northeastern areas through March/April before the pasture restoration.
    • Pastoralists’ access to traditional and migratory grazing areas in Moroto, Kotido, Napak, and Kaabong will likely be hindered by the continued insecurity characterized by armed livestock thefts between the Karamojong ethnic tribes and, in some incidences, by elements from Turkana and South Sudan neighboring areas.
    • Ugandan exports of staple foods are expected to further increase along with increased regional demand due to drought conditions and poor production in Kenya, the recent re-opening of the border with Rwanda, ongoing measures to improve security along the transit corridor to South Sudan, and improved macroeconomic conditions in South Sudan. Maize and dry bean exports from Uganda to structurally deficit producing countries of Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi are expected to remain higher than last year and five-year average levels.
    • Staple food prices are expected to increase from February to May, generally remaining above prices last year and five-year average levels. Increasing regional demand for staples will put upward pressure on prices. Tight maize supplies and increased demand from schools are also expected to support elevated prices across most markets locally. In June/July, staple food prices are expected to seasonally decline alongside increased supply from first season harvesting and replenishment of both household and market food stocks, with near average prices expected through September. (However, given recent conflict in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russia, anticipated disruptions to global energy, cereal, and fertilizer markets will likely put upward pressure on prices. The likely magnitude of these disruptions is being analyzed as events in Ukraine unfold, and will be described in the forthcoming April Food Security Outlook Update. Also see “events that might change the outlook” table below.
    • Given available information on planned and funded humanitarian food assistance in rural refugee settlements, WFP is expected to deliver cash or in-kind assistance to beneficiaries, equivalent to 40 percent rations in southwestern (SW) settlements and 60-70 percent rations in northwestern (NW) settlements. New arrivals will receive full rations for the first three months.
    • Renewed COVID-19 lockdown measures are not anticipated during the scenario period. While growth in real GDP is projected in FY 2022/23, constrained global recovery, continued supply chain disruptions, and global inflationary pressures could limit this growth. Unanticipated shocks related to COVID-19, climate, and geopolitical tensions in the region would also constrain economic recovery.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Across most bimodal areas, income-earning is expected to be generally higher than last year given the anticipated favorable first production season and anticipated economic recovery. With the harvest in June/July, near average to above-average crop production is expected to boost food availability and drive declining staple food prices. However, heavy rains are likely to result in some crop losses – especially for legumes, which are sensitive to moisture – and cause localized flooding and landslides, negatively impacting crop production and other livelihoods. Overall, most households are expected to access sufficient food and income to cover at least their minimally adequate dietary needs throughout the projection period, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) area-level outcomes likely to be sustained. However, as food stocks seasonally decline in March/April and reliance on market purchases increases, some poor households are likely to face difficulty meeting their non-food needs without engaging in coping strategies – indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) – or may face slight to moderate food consumption gaps – indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In the greater northern Uganda, following two consecutive seasons of poor production, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are now expected to persist through May/June when the green harvest will boost food availability and increase market supplies.

    In Karamoja, availability of food and income is expected to further decline as the lean season progresses through July. As such, an increasing number of households are expected to face consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with worst-affected households deteriorating to Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Given the above-average rainfall forecast, agricultural labor opportunities and wild vegetables are expected to be available to poor households. Households will also continue to sell natural resources like charcoal and firewood and engage in domestic labor to earn income for food purchases. However, rising staple food prices coupled with constrained income will continue to drive below-average household purchasing power. Around July, food from the green harvest will support some improvement in food consumption. The start of the main harvest in August/September is expected to further increase food availability, with area-level improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected. However, a late harvest would delay improvements.

    In rural refugee settlements, area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are likely to prevail throughout the scenario period. Despite anticipated economic recovery, most households are expected to have limited access to food and income, with many worst-affected (though less than 20 percent of the refugee population) expected to face consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In May/June, food from the green harvest is expected to become available to supplement humanitarian food assistance, reducing the number facing consumption gaps. Additional analysis on refugee settlements is provided in the “area of concern” section of this report.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario:


    Impact on food security outcomes

    Delayed, below-average, or poorly distributed seasonal rainfall

    This would reduce availability of agricultural labor opportunities and delay the arrival of harvests. Below-average crop performance would likely result in below-average production.  More households would be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), especially in the greater northern Uganda. In Karamoja, the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) would likely increase and food consumption gaps would widen.

    Significantly above-average rainfall

    Early-season over-saturation of soil would likely delay ploughing and planting activities, while crop losses due to waterlogging, floods, or landslides would be likely as the season progressed. Flood- and landslide-prone areas would likely deteriorate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with some households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the loss of crops and related on-farm livelihood activities. In Karamoja, the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) would likely remain atypically high during the harvest season.

    Conflict in Ukraine disrupts global energy, grain, and fertilizer markets, resulting in rising global prices

    Though Uganda produces a surplus of most staple food crops, rising fuel prices would likely contribute to higher prices of many food and essential non-food items, weakening purchasing power of poor households dependent on markets—especially in urban areas—and constraining food access. It is likely that Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes would emerge in urban areas. In rural areas, higher costs of agricultural inputs could impede poor households’ ability to invest in livelihoods.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    The greater north is in Stressed and Karamoja is in Crisis

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, February 2022

    Source: FEWS NET

    below-average rainfall in most of the country

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    bar chart showing volatile rainfall amounts over time

    Figure 4

    Figure 2

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    map showing sparse, near average vegetation in Karamoja and below average vegetation conditions in central areas

    Figure 5

    Figure 3

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    chart showing sorghum and maize prices are above average while bean and cassava prices are below average

    Figure 6

    Figure 4

    Source: Farmgain

    chart showing sorghum and maize prices are above last year while bean prices are below last year; cassava prices are mixed

    Figure 7

    Figure 5

    Source: Farmgain

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top