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Above-average first season rains expected to bring good harvests

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Uganda
  • July - December 2012
Above-average first season rains expected to bring good harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Most likely food security scenario (July to December 2012)
  • Key Messages
    • Although most regions of the country experienced a delayed onset of the March to May first season rains, overall rainfall was favorable and relatively better than 2011 for most cropping areas. A good first season harvest (June-August) is expected for most cereals in bimodal areas. 

    • Some areas in northwestern and northeastern districts and the Lake Victoria Basin experienced flooding in the lowlands in June and July, causing considerable crop damage in localized areas. Post-harvest losses are expected in these areas, as the extended rainy season is likely to affect the drying of produce.

    • The Karamoja region has experienced normal to above-normal rainfall, which has been favorable for improved range conditions and pasture availability. Food availability has increased as the harvest season is fully established. 

    • The prices of most staple crops have continued to decline following the supply of first season fresh harvests. Maize and bean prices in nearly all upcountry markets have dropped significantly below last year’s prices. Notably, bean prices in June declined as much as 32 percent compared to May prices, while maize prices dropped up to 12 percent. While market supplies have considerably increased, the price declines are likely not to be sustained beyond the harvest season in September because of high local and regional demand.

    Most likely food security scenario (July to December 2012)

    The country has generally been food secure and is concluding the lean season in agricultural and agropastoral areas, as the major harvests continue for beans, maize and other cereals through August in bimodal areas. Most parts of the country received average to above-average rains, which were sufficient for crop production requirements. Extended rains through June and July compensated for the late start of the seasonal rains and provided additional support to crop development, and a good harvest is expected. An extended harvesting period is expected for the areas where planting was delayed.

    Fresh maize and beans from the central and western regions have been on the market since the beginning of July. The continued harvesting period has led to a substantial increase in the supply of major staple crops on the markets, causing a significant decline in food prices compared to the previous month and last year at the same time. Rice harvests from the paddy fields of eastern Uganda have also caused a decline in market prices. The supply of matoke from the southwestern districts has been substantial, causing a price decline of 27 percent in Mbarara, a major supplier of bananas to the Kampala market. Due to sustained high demand in the country and among other countries in the region, including South Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the decline in food prices may be temporary, with potential price rises soon after the traders stock and hoard the available surplus in anticipation of higher prices in the future. 

    In order to project food security outcomes through the scenario period, FEWS NET makes a number of most likely assumptions about key seasonal events important to sources of food and income in each country and livelihood zone in areas of concern. FEWS NET also makes assumptions about other future events that could have a significant impact on food security in the region. These assumptions enable FEWS NET to identify the direct and indirect effects leading to changes in household food and income sources and then food security outcomes over the course of the outlook period.

    The following assumptions have been made for the July to December period:

    • Above average rainfall, according to the Department of Meteorology and farmer’s advisory message from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. is expected to continue to the end of August.  Good rangeland conditions and water resources availability are expected through December. The development of a moderate El Niño phenomenon is expected to produce above-normal rainfall amounts in parts of East Africa in the months of October to December, although the impact on Uganda is not yet clear.
    • All households are expected to access milk and other livestock products like ghee and butter through the end of December.
    • As harvests begin in July to September, crop stocks expected to be replenished to normal levels and crops sales are expected to be normal from the month of September to December.
    • Cereal prices are expected to be relatively low after the harvest in October and gradually increase towards December. Trade activities will not be disrupted to enable households to begin making food purchases in December.
    • Additional household incomes from grass sales and brick making are expected to be available during October to December for the agro-pastoral region and through charcoal/firewood and honey production in the months of September - November for the pastoral region to enable food purchase.
    • Low incidence of disease is expected as the wet season ends in the month of October up to December.
    • Livestock sales are expected to begin in December.

    At a national level, levels of acute food insecurity throughout the country have been classified as ‘no or minimal acute food insecurity’ (IPC phase 1). Although some short-term instability in food sources is experienced among pockets of poor households, these households do not amount to more than 20 percent of the population in a given area, and the majority of households are able to meet basic food needs without atypical coping strategies, and will continue to do so throughout the scenario period (Figures 2 and 3).

    Karamoja region

    The pastoral and agro-pastoral zones of Karamoja have experienced average to above-average rainfall, which has been favorable for improved range conditions and pasture availability. The rainfall amounts have enhanced above normal crop performance, and normal to good crop harvests are expected.

    The month of July marks the end of the peak milk production period, a major source of food for both the agro-pastoral and pastoral areas, while August and September are characterized by relatively low milk production.  Livestock in pastoral areas have been grazing around homesteads of origin, enabling access to milk, and will migrate away from homesteads in search of pasture in November and December in line with seasonal trends. Household diets have been supplemented with the consumption of green vegetables since May. Wild vegetables and white ants have also been food sources as a result of the rainy season.

    In the agro-pastoral areas, food sources in the period July-September are from own production, which accounts for 40 percent of annual food needs, including sorghum, maize, millet, beans, sesame, and ground nuts. Honey production will be important in September to November, and wild food consumption will be a source of food in November-December for the pastoral areas. Peak crop sales, grass sales (September-December) and pole cutting/brick making (November-December) will be important income sources for the agro-pastoral areas during the scenario period.

    Households in pastoral areas of Karamoja have been in the typical lean season and therefore food stocks are very low and will remain low until the harvesting season (July-September). The poor households that have to depend on the market for food have been engaged in causal labor activities to earn income for market purchases. From July to December, market purchases are not a significant source of food in the pastoral zone, though market purchases become more important in December, the mid-dry season. Poor households will be involved in charcoal production / firewood sales (up to November) but also migrate to nearby towns in search of casual labor opportunities beginning in December. Livestock sales are expected to occur at the beginning of December.

    The month of July marks the end of the lean season, and some localized areas (with less than 20 percent of the population) have experienced some food consumption deficits, but these households are expected to recover to minimal or no acute food insecurity levels (IPC Phase 1) after the harvests start. Since above-average rainfall is expected to continue to the end of September when the long rain season ends, good rangeland conditions are expected to maintain availability of pasture and water up to the end of the scenario period.

    Most households are expected to access milk up to the end of scenario period while most supplemental crop harvests that will take place in August-September will replenish the crop stocks to normal levels. Food prices are expected to decline as the harvest supply increases, enabling poor households’ consumption levels to return to pre-stress levels. The scenario area has not suffered any loss of livelihood assets, and livestock are currently in good body conditions while the crop harvest is expected to be at near normal levels to provide sufficient stocks for the households. While acute malnutrition for the majority of households is not of concern for the scenario period, some poor households will continue to face moderate malnutrition up to the harvest season that begins in August.

    Livestock migrations from the area normally start in December for the dry season that will begin in October through March of the following year. Livestock sales are expected to begin in December, when incomes from sales can boost household food stocks. With the assumptions made for the scenario period and area, the region is expected to be in IPC phase 1 through the remainder of the year (Figures 2 and 3).

    Bimodal areas

    Although the first season rains should be ending, some parts of the country are still experiencing rains, which benefits the grazing areas and farmers that have concluded their harvesting and are planning to do land preparation activities for the next season. However, where harvesting continues, postharvest losses and poor drying of produce is expected to occur. The current dry conditions in the southwestern districts will enhance drying of harvested cereal crops much faster. Trade activities are expected to be uninterrupted to facilitate further exports of maize, beans and other cereals to neighboring countries. This demand will be sustained throughout the outlook period from markets in Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.  The price of most staple crops is expected to decline further in the month of August as quantities of newly harvested crops increase on the market. Produce traders that were holding onto their stocks of maize in anticipation of higher prices are putting their stocks on the market as harvests from the rest of the country continue to increase. This will further cause the prices of stored cereals to decline further. Households in the bi-modal areas are expected to access adequate food supplies and incomes from crop sales as the scenario period progresses, and therefore will experience minimal to no acute food insecurity (IPC phase 1) for the duration of the scenario period.

    Table 1: Less likely events over the next six months that could change the above scenarios.



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Southern Karamoja Pastoral Livelihood Zone of Karamoja region  (including parts of Moroto and Amudat districts

    Increased armament among the Karamajong that is beginning to be reported

    Could potentially cause conflict disrupting trade and other livelihood activities

    Karamoja region

    Escalation of conflict in South Sudan

    Could result in mass movement of people into Uganda affecting livelihoods in the scenario area and neighboring areas

    Karamoja region

    Resumption of cattle rustling activities among the pastoral groups in Uganda or from neighboring Kenya

    Could potentially lead to significant loss in livelihood assets and disruption of livestock marketing activities from which income for buying food is obtained

    Karamoja region

    Longer than expected current rainy season

    Poor condition of roads in the area will affect trading activities to the area affecting supplies from other areas into the region

    South western region in Isingiro district

    Continued conflict in the eastern Congo, causing more refugees to flee into Uganda

    Available food stocks may run out much faster if no external assistance is given, may cause food prices in the affected area to increase

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current estimated food security outcomes, July 2012

    Figure 2

    Current estimated food security outcomes, July 2012

    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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