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Second season rains better than expected

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Uganda
  • October 2011 - March 2012
Second season rains better than expected

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  • Key Messages
  • Current food security conditions
  • Key Messages
    • Initial concerns about a potential second consecutive below-average harvest in northwestern and northern Uganda have not materialized as rains have performed better than expected. Food security across the country has been bolstered by food stocks from the first season harvest, and is expected to further improve with above-average second season harvests starting in November. Therefore, there are no expectations of acute food insecurity for more than 20 percent of the population in a given area, and the country is expected to remain at IPC Phase 1 (no or minimal food insecurity) through March 2012.

    • Rangeland conditions and access to milk in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in Karamoja are good. In agricultural areas of Karamoja, the cropping season has been very good and harvesting of maize, beans, simsim (sesame), ground nuts and cowpeas is on-going. In Nakapiripirit and Amudat districts of Karamoja, MAAIF and partners have intensified food and mouth disease (FMD) control. Livestock markets are expected to reopen by December, the beginning of the lean season, when livestock sales are important for pastoral households.

    • Prices of staples are above average across most markets and are expected to rise until the next harvest enters the market in November/December. However, high regional demand for maize is likely to maintain above-average prices throughout the outlook period. Access to food among market-dependent households, particularly those in urban areas, will need to be monitored.  


    Current food security conditions

    Above-average first season crop production in most bimodal areas has resulted in adequate carryover stocks for the majority of households into the second season. These stocks are expected to last through November when the second season harvest begins. Although the first season harvests increased the supply of staples to markets and prices have declined significantly since June when stocks were low, they remain above average and are expected to increase until the next harvest in November/December. This upward trend is largely due to sustained above-average regional demand for staples, mainly from South Sudan and Kenya. For instance, the price of maize in Masindi is 86 percent above the five-year average (Figure 2). According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, inflation rose from 21.4 percent in August to 28.3 percent in September, and food prices remain the main driver of inflation due to their weight (27.2 percent) in the minimum household consumption basket. This raises concern for increasing food insecurity among poor urban households.

    Harvesting in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Karamoja is nearly complete and above-average harvests of sorghum, maize and beans have been realized. Household food stocks and market supplies have improved, but prices remain erratic and are nearly twice 2010 levels (Figure 3). Unseasonable rains that have continued into October (Figure 4) have ensured availability of pasture and water, thereby increasing milk availability and access. The cropping season in the agricultural areas of Karamoja has also been very good and harvesting of maize, beans, simsim (sesame), ground nuts and cowpeas is on-going. Generally, the majority of households in Karamoja have access to adequate food and face no or minimal food insecurity.

    In northern and northwestern Uganda, where first season production was below-average, households are supplementing the low carry-over cereal stocks with market purchases, especially of legumes. Cassava, a staple in these regions, is readily available, and provides both food and cash needs. Initial concerns about a second consecutive poor season in these regions have been allayed as rains have generally been better than forecast, with near-normal to above-normal rains since the start of the second season (Figure 4). According to the Department of Meteorology, the rains are expected to cease in late October/early November. Crops such as simsim, sorghum, cassava, and cotton are developing well and above-average harvests are expected starting in late November. High demand from traders exporting cassava to South Sudan is maintaining above-average prices. Across these regions, ample agricultural labor opportunities are available due to the good cropping season, providing additional cash for poor households.

    In the central and southern cattle, maize, and cassava zone (central and southern cattle corridor) (Figure 6), the above-average rains received since the beginning of the season have filled the valley dams and other livestock watering points and maintained pasture in good condition. Households have access to adequate milk, and are depending on first season harvests of maize and cassava for food needs.

    Most likely food security scenario (October 2011 to March 2012)

    The most likely scenario from October 2011 to March 2012 is based on the following assumptions:  

    • Continued above-average rainfall during the second season will lead to above-average crop harvests in all bimodal areas.
    • Water and pasture will be available from October to December, and good household access to milk is therefore expected.
    • Livestock markets in Nakapiripirit are likely to remain partially closed due to foot and mouth disease (FMD) through November/December, but to open thereafter.
    • High regional demand (particularly from South Sudan and Kenya) for staples will maintain above-average prices, even though prices should seasonably decline as harvests begin in bimodal areas in November.
    • Labor opportunities will readily available for poor households in bimodal areas during October to December.
    Karamoja

    In agro-pastoral and pastoral areas of Karamoja, households rely on maize, sorghum, and beans to meet food needs between October and December 2011. As food stocks begin to dwindle during the dry season (December to March), households will supplement with market purchases using income from charcoal, firewood and limited livestock sales. Additional incoming harvests expected from neighboring Lango, Teso and Elgon regions will further improve food availability in the coming months, but are unlikely to reduce market prices in Karamoja due to the high cost of transport into the region. The post-harvest erratic staple prices require close monitoring of food security conditions of the poor in these areas during the Outlook period.

    In Nakapiripirit and Amudat districts of Karamoja, MAAIF and partners have intensified FMD control and though the livestock markets are still partially closed, they are expected to reopen by December, the beginning of the lean season, when livestock sales are important for pastoral households.

    Overall poor and very poor agro-pastoral and pastoral households are likely to have adequate food for consumption, and no or minimal food insecurity is expected between October and December. Normally, the dry season (December to March) begins in October and livestock migrate to dry season grazing areas in November. However, unseasonable rains into October imply that water and pasture are still readily available and migration is likely to be delayed until December. During January and March, some poor pastoral and agro-pastoral households, though not more than 20 percent of the population in these areas, are likely to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity due to limited availability of household food stocks and milk. Access to milk is likely to decline during the dry season and is typically associated with elevated levels of child malnutrition during this period.

    Central and Southern Cattle Maize and Cassava Zone (central and southern “cattle corridor”)

    During the outlook period, households in the Central and Southern Cattle Maize and Cassava Zone (Figure 6), are expected to have ample access to own harvests of maize and cassava between October and December. Milk is expected to remain an important source of food for the pastoral and agro-pastoral households through March. This will be supplemented with market purchase of maize using income from livestock, charcoal and labor sales, and in-kind payments for labor with maize and cassava for poorer households during the October to December cropping period. Due to the reliance on livestock sales for income to purchase food during the dry season, households in this zone are vulnerable to livestock diseases and fluctuations in cereal prices.

    From October to December, water and pasture are likely to remain typically available and therefore access to milk will remain good. Also, livestock body condition is expected to remain good and therefore, livestock will fetch good prices in the market. Livestock migration to dry season grazing areas near major water dams and rivers within the zone is expected to begin in January. Maize from within the zone is expected to remain readily available in the market due to good production. However, higher-than-normal demand for maize from outside the livelihood zone (both domestic and international) is likely to maintain prices above average throughout the outlook period. Kiboga, Nakaseke and Mubende districts in this zone are some of the main suppliers of maize to markets in Kampala.  

    Above-average prices are likely to affect food access for poor households who depend on market purchases to meet their food needs. High cereal prices imply that households will face difficulty purchasing adequate cereals for household consumption from December to March. Households are likely to respond by increasing sale of livestock, charcoal and firewood to earn enough income to purchase food. Rangeland conditions and staple prices will need to continually be monitored.

    The partial quarantine in Kirihura District due to FMD since October is raising concern as livestock markets are likely to remain closed when the dry season begins in December, yet households rely on livestock sales to meet food needs. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is likely to start livestock vaccinations in the district to control the disease and allow markets to re-open between January and March 2012.

    Bimodal areas

    Households in bimodal areas will rely on carry-over stocks from the first season to meet their needs between October and November. The rainfall in the southern half of the country is progressing well and is expected to result in above-average crop harvests starting in late November. Better-than-expected second season rainfall in the northern half of Uganda is expected to result in above-average crop harvests starting in November. This indicates that generally, households in bimodal areas are expected to have access to adequate food and cash income from crop sales, and therefore will continue to experience no or minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between January and March 2012.

    Overall, the country is expected to remain at IPC Phase 1 (no or minimal food insecurity) through March 2012, as there are no expectations for acute food insecurity for more than 20 percent of the population in a given area (Figure 5).

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

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Karamoja and the central and southern “cattle corridor”

    Drier than normal dry season could result in poorer rangeland resources

    Poor rangeland resources likely to reduce milk production, and result in poorer than normal livestock body condition. Livestock would likely migrate farther distances from home in search of water and pasture, further limiting access to milk for sedentary household members (the elderly, women, children). This combined with high cereal prices would result in deterioration of food security to IPC phase 2 (stress level) for poor households.

    Figures Seasonal calendar and critical events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar and critical events

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Current estimated food security outcomes, October 2011

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Current estimated food security outcomes, October 2011

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Nominal wholesale maize prices in Masindi district

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Nominal wholesale maize prices in Masindi district

    Source: Farmgain Africa Ltd

    Figure 3. Nominal Retail sorghum prices in Kotido district, Karamoja

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. Nominal Retail sorghum prices in Kotido district, Karamoja

    Source: WFP, Uganda

    Figure 4. Rainfall Performance: August 21 to October 20, 2011

    Figure 5

    Figure 4. Rainfall Performance: August 21 to October 20, 2011

    Source: USGS

    Figure 6.  Pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood zones

    Figure 6

    Figure 6. Pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood zones

    Source: FEWS NET Uganda

    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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