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High food prices and below-average crop production to limit food access in early 2023

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • December 2022
High food prices and below-average crop production to limit food access in early 2023

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Across bimodal areas, the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes is decreasing alongside increased availability of food from own crop production. However, by February, the number facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes is expected to begin increasing again as stocks are exhausted, particularly in areas where production was relatively poor. While area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected in most bimodal areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist in much of the greater northern and eastern Uganda given the impacts of consecutive poor production seasons and high prices of food and essential non-food commodities. Given this and below-average income-earning, many poor urban households are likely to continue experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through at least May 2023.

    • In bimodal areas, late-season rainfall in December further improved cumulative totals for the September to December second rainy season. The season concluded with cumulative rainfall reaching average to above average levels across most parts of the country. This has slightly improved production prospects for perennial crops (including cassava and sweet potatoes) and plantation crops (including bananas, coffee, sugar cane, and tea) that will be harvested in future months, with production of these crops expected to be near average at the national level. However, unusually heavy rainfall during the ongoing harvesting of legumes and cereals including maize and millet is resulting in postharvest losses and high moisture content for the crops being offered on the market. Though performance was mixed, national-level production of these crops is estimated to be better than the first season of 2022 but still below average.

    • Staple food prices displayed mixed trends across monitored bimodal markets between October and November. Prices of beans and maize generally declined slightly to moderately, while trends in prices of cassava, Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes were mixed. However, prices of all staple foods in November remained higher than last year and five-year average levels. Sustained high fuel prices, atypically high regional demand, and below-average supply of most staples for four consecutive seasons continue to drive above-average food prices. More recently, increased transportation costs following the heavy rains that deteriorated road conditions in rural areas are putting additional upward pressure on prices. According to anecdotal information from key informants (including traders and consumers) and other sources including media reports, high prices and reduced availability of typical income earning opportunities due to the slow-paced economic recovery are driving below-average aggregate demand, particularly in urban areas where most surplus food is consumed.

    • In Karamoja, below-average household food stocks and above-average staple prices continue to constrain food access amid limited opportunities for income-earning. Across monitored Karamoja markets, prices of staple sorghum grain increased by 17 to 28 percent from October to November, reaching levels 22 to 71 percent higher than prices recorded last year and the five-year average. Elevated prices are being driven by the below-average 2022 main harvest in Karamoja, below-average national production in 2022, delays in supplies from neighboring sub-regions reaching Karamoja, high prices of fuel, and general inflation in the country. Given high prices and below-average income-earning from typical activities including casual labor and sales of firewood, charcoal, and livestock, many poor households continue to be unable to meet their basic needs. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in the region. The lean season is expected to begin early, by March, as more households exhaust below-average food stocks. As the lean season intensifies throughout the remainder of the projection period, an increasing number of households are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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