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Food security begins to improve in Karamoja as the harvest begins and sorghum prices decline

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • September 2019
Food security begins to improve in Karamoja as the harvest begins and sorghum prices decline

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In bimodal areas, above-average off-season rainfall since July has prompted many farmers to plant second season crops earlier than usual. This has led to an overlap in delayed first season harvesting activities with second season cultivation activities, which has increased agricultural labor demand to above-normal levels. Increased labor income is helping to compensate for below-average first season crop sales income. However, the spatial distribution of this off-season rainfall has been uneven, with other farmers – especially in the southwest where the first season harvest was not delayed – still preparing land on the typical timeline. Given early/on-schedule planting and a forecast of average to above-average second season rainfall, the second season green harvest is expected to begin in some areas by late October. These food and income sources are expected to sustain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes for most poor households through January.

    • In Karamoja, the start of the harvest in southern areas and the western farming belt and relative improvements in the terms of trade for sorghum are beginning to improve food availability and access. From July to August, the retail sorghum price declined due to increased supply from local harvests combined with inflows of first season harvests from neighboring bimodal areas. At the same time, the price of charcoal, goats, and firewood increased from July to August, which has generally improved the terms of trade for sorghum and increased food access for the poor. Though declining, sorghum prices remain higher than in August 2018 in all reference markets and 28-35 percent above the five-year average in Napak, Nakapiripirit, and Kaabong. As the rest of the harvest becomes available, most poor households are expected to improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by October.

    • The availability of the new harvests is replenishing both household and market food stocks in bimodal areas. Access to maize is improving as prices decline driven by increased supply. In August, the retail price of maize fell below the five-year average. However, the price of beans remained atypically high, reaching an average of 37 and 66 percent above the five-year average and August 2018 prices, respectively, across fourteen major markets in bimodal areas. This is attributed to below-average first season production coinciding with demand for second-season seed, institutional demand from boarding schools, and export market demand. Conversely, retail prices for substitutes including other staple cereals, plantains, roots, and tubers remain low.

    • According to UNHCR/OPM, the refugee population in Uganda reached 1,331,565 as of August 31. Since January 2019, the monthly rate of new arrivals peaked in July at 15,000 and declined to 13,000 in August. In early August, IOM and partners announced the acceleration of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cross-border transmission prevention efforts at more than 64 western border points of entry; there are no current cases of Ebola in Uganda. Due to receipt of funding, WFP is now expected to continue delivering rations to refugees at planned levels through January 2020, with Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes anticipated.

    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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