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According to the latest GIEWS food price data, prices remain high and are at their peak as the lean season continues. The high retail prices for imported maize and limited incomes are constraining poor households’ ability to adequately meet livelihood needs. Poor rural households across the country will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in February.
The start of green consumption and early harvests in March, ongoing safety net programming, income opportunities associated with agriculture, stable food prices and the start of the main harvest are all expected to contribute to sufficient household food access, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes from March to June.
Seasonal rainfall in some areas has been below average with moderate dry spells experienced in most parts of the country. As a result, crops are in mediocre to average condition across the country. With increased chances of normal to below-normal rainfall for the remainder of season to March, harvest prospects are expected to be below the five-year average (127,000 MT) and slightly above last year (104,000 MT).
Forecasted below-normal rainfall countrywide for January to March.
Slightly below-average crop production due to forecasted average to below-average rainfall between January and March.
Northern and Southern Lowlands
Mid-season dry spells extending over 10 days and above-average temperatures are resulting in moisture stress and wilting of crops.
Below-normal 2014/15 seasonal performance, which is likely to result in near 2013/14 production levels.
Seasonal progress has been below average with mid-season dry spells experienced in most places across the country from the end of January through much of February. The Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) estimates that maize crop condition is average in most parts of the country, but mediocre in the Southern and Northern Lowlands (Figure 1). The extended Soil Water Index for February 10-20 (Figure 2) indicates a likelihood of increased crop water stress and wilting across the country and in particular the lowlands, which have experienced high temperatures and little to no rainfall for 10-15 days.
The two indices suggest that seasonal progress and crop conditions are now moving to below normal performance, and are occurring during the tasselling and vegetation stages of development, which are critical for crop growth. Forecasts still indicate increased chances of average to below-average rainfall up to March, which is likely to further impact harvest prospects. FEWS NET expects production to be slightly better than the 2013/14 season, but significantly below the five-year average.
February typically marks the typical peak of the lean period. This year, labor supply for weeding is higher than normal as households seeks labor opportunities to compensate for reduced income earlier in the year. With labor demand remaining at normal levels, labor availability is lower than in a normal year. As a result, poor households are earning less income than in a normal year, and are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity in February.
Despite prospects for reduced crop yields, the start of green consumption and early harvest in March, followed by main harvest in April, will improve food access of households. The start of the main harvest will also bring labor opportunities, providing incomes for poor households, which will further improve capacity of households to meet basic food and non-food basic needs, likely resulting an improvement in food insecurity outcomes to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between March and June.
The high opening stock of grain, low import prices for maize, and reduced fuel prices maintained the stability of prices and availability of maize meal in the country. With the start of green consumption and main harvests in March and April, as well as reduced market dependency with the onset of harvests, local and imported maize meal prices are expected to remain relatively stable. As a result of increased income and stable prices, poor households’ purchasing power will likely improve between April and June.
The World Food Program (WFP) safety-net programs targeting 321,526 people are expected to continue during the outlook period, further strengthening food access for households. FEWS NET projects an improvement in food access to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes from March through June 2015 throughout the country. This outlook would worsen in the event of any worsening of the dry-spell or instability of markets following elections.
Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
Figure 1: Seasonal WRSI, February 1-10, 2015
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
Figure 2: Extended WRSI, February 11-20, 2015
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.