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Staple food prices rise nationwide, causing a decline in household purchasing power

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • May 2019
Staple food prices rise nationwide, causing a decline in household purchasing power

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In bimodal areas, average to above-average rainfall in May has significantly improved crop growing conditions in central and eastern Uganda. However, planting was four to six weeks late and below-average acreage was cultivated in Teso, Lango, and Acholi sub-regions and in parts of northeastern Uganda. Crops are widely in the early vegetative growth stage in these areas. In the southwest and parts of Central Region, crops have advanced to the reproductive stage, but below-average yields are expected due to the earlier impacts of poor rainfall, which include moisture stress, poor germination, stunting, and poor flowering. Total production is now expected to be 30-50 percent below average and delayed until late June. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to be sustained in Eastern Region through September.

    • After a delay of at least four weeks, Karamoja’s rainy season began in May. Irregular distribution across and within districts prompted staggered ploughing and planting. Pasture and water resources have improved significantly but remain below average. Since most households had few to no sorghum and maize seeds saved after the failed 2018 production season and are spending most of their limited income on food purchases, area planted is below average. As a result, crop production is expected to be below average and delayed until August/September. Poor food availability and deteriorating household purchasing power are expected to sustain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, characterized by widening food gaps, rising prevalence of acute malnutrition, and limited livelihoods coping capacity. 

    • In April, maize and bean retail prices rose 11-16 percent above the five-year average across key reference markets. In Karamoja, sorghum prices rose 72 and 26 percent above the April 2018 and five-year averages, respectively. Rising prices are driven by declining market supply and high household demand, compounded by high demand for maize seed for replanting, seasonal demand for school feeding, and anticipation of below-average production. Based on FEWS NET’s integrated price projection for Kotido reference market, staple food prices in Karamoja are expected to rise further and remain high through September, peaking at 80-90 percent above the five-year average.

    • Driven primarily by rising food prices, household purchasing power declined nationwide in April, with the most severe declines occurring in Karamoja. Further, the price of charcoal and firewood in Karamoja sharply declined due to concurrent low demand and high supply. As a result, the terms of trade for sorghum declined by 26-75 percent and 15-60 percent compared to the April 2018 and five-year averages, respectively.

    • Refugees with an arable plot will similarly experience a delayed and below-average harvest. Food stocks that typically last one to two months will likely last up to one month. Refugees will rely more heavily on humanitarian food assistance, which WFP reports is partly funded through September. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are likely to be sustained.

    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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