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Second season harvests are ongoing as rainy season ends

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Uganda
  • January - July 2013
Second season harvests are ongoing as rainy season ends

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The ongoing harvests from the second season are expected to be average to above-average, which will improve food security conditions throughout the bimodal areas of the country. Minimal to no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected throughout these areas from January through June 2013. 

    • In most areas of Karamoja (the unimodel area of the country), harvests were below-average and household food stocks are expected to deplete two to three months early. Many households are relying on a combination of market purchases and food assistance and with normal income sources falling short, poor households will only be able to meet basic food needs. Over the next six months, these households are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2).  

    • Food prices in December were above last year's levels (seven to 33 percent higher) and will continue to be so over the next six months. However in most areas of the country, these prices are not expected to be high enough to prevent poor households from accessing food through market purchases. While high local and regional demand will continue, the ongoing above-average second harvests in bimodal areas are expected to moderate prices. 


    National Overview
    Current Situation
    • In bimodal areas, the second season is coming to an end with ongoing harvests of various staple crops, including beans, maize, millet, sorghum, Irish potatoes. Scattered, early rains enabled some farmers to sow early, causing crops across the country to be planted in a staggered manner. This has resulted into a lengthy harvesting season with green harvests in some areas occurring concurrently with the drying of harvests in other areas. January through March is typically considered the dry season although some unseasonal late rains have been observed in some bimodal areas through January.
    • The ongoing second season harvests in most bimodal areas have bolstered food security conditions for both rural and urban households. Production levels from these harvests are expected to be average to above average, although some postharvest losses have been reported as unseasonably late rains have created unfavorable drying conditions.  
    • Livestock body conditions are currently good as late rainfall in January has created favorable pasture and water resource conditions.   
    • The Karamoja region received normal to above-normal rainfall this year, but due to waterlogging conditions and an outbreak of fungal disease on sorghum (the main staple crop), recent harvests were below-average. These harvests, which were mostly completed in October/November except for long maturing sorghum harvests which were harvested in early January, were mostly consumed as green consumption and therefore, the dry harvest did not replenish households stocks to normal levels.   As a result, the majority of poor households has already depleted their own production and is facing food deficits of two to three months before the normal start to the lean season in March. Last year, households in this region experienced poor crop sales during the dry season which is further reducing the ability of poor households to purchase adequate levels of food.
    • Due to end-of-the-year celebrations in December that increased seasonal demand, most staple food commodities experienced a price increase ranging from five to 10 percent compared to November. These high price levels continue into January, likely due to high fuel prices (9.8 percent increase in diesel prices between August and December) caused by a weak Ugandan shilling to U.S. dollar exchange rate. Markets continued to have a steady supply of most staple foods from the first season harvests, and supply has been recently bolstered by second season harvests which are now arriving at markets. Despite improving market supply and a moderation of demand after the end-of-the-year celebrations, prices are still higher than last year's prices at this time.
    • As harvests come to an end, cross-border trade levels are increasing. Substantial volumes of maize and beans are being exported to Kenya following below average harvests in the western and rift valley areas of Kenya during the last harvest season there. Normal but significant levels of maize grain and flour, sorghum, beans, cassava, and rice exports to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda are also occurring. While regional demand remains high, this is not expected to impact poor household food security levels in bimodal areas of Uganda. No market shocks or new trade policies affecting food price trends have been observed.
    • In bimodal areas of the country, minimal to no (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is being observed. In most areas of Karamoja (the unimodel area of the country), households currently are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity conditions (Figure 1).
    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario during the January to June 2013 period is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Onset of First Season Rains: The first season rains will start normally in March, allowing households to plant their fields on time. This will also enable normal levels of agricultural labor opportunities and related household income levels.
    • Second Season Harvests: As the second season harvests conclude, average to above average crop production levels are expected. Both local and regional demand will sufficiently be met through normal crop sales by farmers. 
    • Livestock conditions and milk production: As the dry season continues through March, water and pasture resources will deteriorate normally. This will reduce animal body conditions and will reduce milk production levels. No major outbreaks of livestock disease that would require quarantines or the closure of livestock markets are anticipated.
    • Exchange rates: The Ugandan shilling (UGX) to U.S. dollar (USD) exchange rate is not expected to further depreciate due to tight monetary policies implemented by the Bank of Uganda, as well as various global factors. While the shilling (UGX) will remain relatively weak, its depreciation is unlikely to cause further increases in imported fuel prices.
    • Food prices: Due to the recent harvests, food prices will stabilize in February but will remain higher than last year's levels at this time. Following normal season trends, food prices will gradually increase between March and June.
    • Trade: Trading activities within Uganda, as well as with neighboring countries, are expected to behave normally with high levels of demand from nearby countries, including Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. No policy interventions preventing the free movement of food commodities from surplus to deficit production areas are anticipated.
    • Regional conflict: Civil insecurity in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will continue at status quo levels. As a result, the influx of refugees into southwestern districts of Uganda will continue at current levels.  
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Food security outcomes will remain favorable throughout most parts of the country as near average to above average second season harvests are expected from November to January in most bimodal areas. Production from the second season will replenish household food stocks to normal levels and crop sales will provide additional income for households to meet other non-food needs. The timely onset of rains will provide agricultural labor opportunities for households, boosting their incomes.  In addition, increased milk production levels in the bimodal areas will supplement household nutritional requirements and incomes for households with livestock, although a gradual decline is expected when the dry season is fully established in February. Finally, while staple food prices will remain above last year's levels during the scenario period, they will not be high enough to prevent poor households from making market purchases. In bimodal areas of the country, most households will be able to meet both their food and non-food needs, without engaging in any atypical coping strategies throughout the outlook period, meaning that minimal to no (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity will be observed through June 2013.


    Areas of Concern

    Agropastoral livelihood zone in Karamoja

    Current Situation

    This livelihood zone (northern Nakapiripirit, Napak, Moroto, Kotido, and Kaabong Districts of Karamoja) experienced normal to above normal rainfall levels throughout the long rain season. Normally the rainy season ends in October but due to continued rainfall levels, the full establishment of the dry season was delayed three months and did not occur until December. As of January, the dry season has started, and pasture and water resources are beginning to decline. However, livestock are still in good condition and there has not been any livestock migration up until this point. Milk production levels are at their lowest levels as many animals have conceived and are preparing to give birth during the next two months.

    In this zone, the harvests of most crops were completed in August and September, with the exception of long-maturing sorghum, which was harvested in January as usual. Due to above average rainfall levels during germination and flowering stages, which washed away seedlings and caused poor pollination, and fungal disease development on sorghum crops (the main staple crop in this zone), harvests were below average. As a result, household food stocks will deplete 1-3 months earlier than normal. Given that food stocks normally deplete around March, many poor and very poor households have already consumed much of their own production and are currently on the verge of missing normal meals and reduced food intake, both in quantity and number of meals eaten per day.

    The consumption of wild food has been on-going at low levels but will increase in importance later in the scenario period between March and July. The majority of households are depending on their own food stocks to meet their food needs but the very poor and poor households are meeting their needs through a combination of market purchases and food assistance. In order to earn income for market purchases, above-average numbers of households are active in pole cutting activities and the sale of grass, charcoal, and firewood. This has caused prices for these products to decline. While livestock sales normally peak in May/June, some households are already starting to sell livestock in order to purchase food. Other poor households are beginning to migrate in search of labor opportunities elsewhere. Terms of trade with respect to livestock and charcoal/firewood to sorghum have deteriorated as food prices in the Karamoja region begin to rise amidst higher demand caused by the below average harvest last season.

    Additional income is being obtained from cash for work (CFW) and food for work (FFW) programs under the livelihood investments support program of the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF II) being implemented by the World Food Program and several partners. Food assistance is also being distributed to households headed by the elderly, the sick, or children. There are also ongoing community feeding programs at health centers for young mothers and their children. This external assistance provides food for a small but significant proportion of the local population.

    As the dry season progresses, water utilization is also declining as households have to fetch their water from longer distance. This is causing hygiene and food utilization, as well as malnutrition rates, among the poor to deteriorate compared to last month.  

    At least 20 percent of households in this zone are experiencing minimally adequate food consumption levels and are unable to afford some essential nonfood expenditures without engaging in irreversible coping strategies. Therefore, this zone is currently classified as facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity (Figure 1).

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario for January to June 2013 is based on the following regional assumptions:

    • Nonfarm Income: Pole cutting, grass sales, and brick making activities generally end in January so supplemental incomes from these activities will be minimal. January through April is the peak of charcoal and firewood sales and this income source is expected to continue through June. However, increased supply of these products will cause prices to fall and incomes from these activities to be below-average.
    • Farm income: Due to effects of the heavy rainfall and fungal diseases, crop production levels from the recent harvests of long maturing sorghum varieties are expected to be below average. The peak period for crop sales is currently over and additional incomes from sorghum sales during the outlook period are expected to be unusually low. 
    • Onset of rains: A normal rainy season is expected to begin in March when land preparation activities and planting activities will occur for the next cropping season. These rains are expected to continue through May before a temporary dry period in June.  
    • Lean season: This zone's lean season, which typically begins in March, will begin two months earlier than usual in January. Market food purchases will be an important source of food during the unusually long lean season.
    • Supplemental food sources: The consumption of wild foods as an additional food source is expected to occur throughout the next six months at above-average levels. The normal rainy season in March will be adequate to produce a normal supply of wild vegetables, and wild food consumption will peak between March and June.
    • Livestock sales: Livestock sales will occur throughout the outlook period at atypically high levels. March through June will be the peak period for livestock sales.
    • Milk production: Between January and February, milk production will be low as pasture and water resource availability is declining and many animals prepare to give birth. Between the months of March and June, milk production will peak as the rainy season improves pasture and water availability. Milk production during this period will improve household diets during the second half of the outlook period.
    • Casual labor: Incomes from casual labor opportunities are expected to peak between March and June with land preparation and planting activities. A moderate increase in incomes from this source is expected.
    • Food prices: The prices of main stable foods, such as sorghum and maize, are expected to rise atypically as demand will be above-average due to an early start of the lean season and an increased reliance by households on market purchases.
    • Local and regional trade: Trading activities with other regions of Uganda are expected to be normal and will continue to supply the region with additional foodstuffs.
    • Disease burden: No major livestock or human disease outbreaks are expected during the next six months.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Since the timing of the lean season will be 1 to 2 months earlier than usual, households with below-average food stocks will turn to increased market purchases and increased consumption of wild fruits (e.g. tamarind), mushrooms, game and wild vegetables, although available food sources will fall short of meeting the nutritional needs of both adults and children. Households will slightly increase their dependence on forestry product sales (firewood, charcoal, grass, poles) and will sell atypical levels of livestock. Poor households will also likely have difficulties purchasing high quality seeds in March for the next agricultural season. In addition, the majority of poor households will increase their agricultural wage labor activities, which will negatively impact their own crop production activities next season. Over the next six months, poor households will be unlikely to meet basic food and nonfood needs without employing atypical coping strategies. Therefore, these households will be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the entire outlook period, from January through June 2013.

    Agricultural livelihood zone in Karamoja

    Current Situation

    Similar to the Agropastoral livelihood zone in Karamoja, heavy rains and fungal diseases damaged crops and led to below-average crop production levels. Food stocks from the recent harvests depleted 1-3 months earlier than usual and as a result, many households have currently depleted their stocks and are meeting their consumption needs through a combination of market purchases and food assistance. Some households are also harvesting cassava to improve their diets.

    Due to the current dry season, water and pasture conditions are declining in this livelihood zone. However, scattered rains from October through December, after the normal end of the rainy season, has benefited pasture conditions and have lead to better livestock conditions.  There are no reports of major livestock diseases in the region so livestock losses at this time are minimal

    Due to the poor harvests, income from crop sales, which normally occurred in December, was below-average this year. Households are engaging in increased levels of firewood/charcoal sales, pole cutting, and brick making activities. Incomes from cash for work programs by World Vision and ACF are also helping poor households meet their food and nonfood needs. The most vulnerable households (households headed by children, the elderly, or the sickly) are also receiving food assistance through a WFP feeding program and food provisions for young mothers and malnourished children.

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario for January to June 2013 is based on the following regional assumptions:

    • Future Onset of the Rains: The onset of the rainy season is expected to begin normally in March.
    • Livestock sales: Livestock sales will peak in March, May and June.
    • Early harvests: Green consumption of maize will begin starting in June and will improve food availability for poor households.  
    • Livestock production: Livestock births will occur between March and June. This will provide milk that will supplement household diets. Milk production will peak near the end of the outlook period (May/June).
    • Nonfarm incomes: The peak of charcoal sales will be in May and June. Firewood sales will occur from January through March and will then decline to minimal levels for the rest of the outlook period.
    • Disease burden: No major livestock or human disease outbreaks are expected during the next six months.
    • Food prices: The prices of main staple foods, including sorghum and maize, will increase during the upcoming months, following normal seasonal trends. However, due to the early lean season and increased demand as households are more reliant on the market, prices are expected to be above-normal during the entire outlook period.  
    • Casual labor: Incomes from casual labor opportunities will peak after the start of the rainy season in March. Major agricultural activities will include land preparation, planting, and weeding. 
    • Local and regional trade: Trading activities with other regions of Uganda are expected to be normal and will continue to supply the region with additional foodstuffs.
    • Humanitarian Assistance: Ongoing humanitarian assistance through cash for work and food for work programs are expected to continue normally through the next six months, improving food access for some households.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Over the next six months of the scenario period, poor households will be unlikely to meet both their food and nonfood needs without engaging in atypical coping strategies. The food stocks of very poor and poor households are already near depletion one to three months before the normal start of the lean season and many households will be market dependant during the entire scenario period. To deal with below-normal stocks and increased market dependency, households will engage in atypical coping strategies including selling additional animals and/or increasing consumption of wild foods. Poor households in this zone are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the entire outlook period, from January through June 2013. 


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Karamoja agropastoral and pastoral zones

    Delayed onset of the rains in March-April

    • Agricultural labor opportunities would be delayed
    • Milk production would be lower than anticipated due to reduced pasture and water resources

     

    Karamoja agropastoral and pastoral zones

    An outbreak or increased incidence of livestock diseases, such as contagious bovine pleural pneumonia (CBPP) or foot and mouth disease (FMD)

    • Quarantines are put in place that would reduce or delay livestock sales and reduce household income levels

    Karamoja agropastoral and Agricultural zones

    Abnormally high prices for stable foods

    • Market food access would be limited for poor households

    Bimodal areas

    Delay in the onset of the rains for the first season in March

    • Negative impacts on household livelihoods that are mainly related to agriculture
    • Will threaten first season's crop production levels and will cause prices to increase

    Southwestern districts hosting the refugees

    Increased conflict in eastern DRC

    • Increased inflows of refugees into the region
    • External food assistance needs for both refugees and for the host population may increase significantly
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, January 2013

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, January 2013

    Source: FEWS NET

    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.

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