FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
- Unfavorable prospects for 2015 secondary “belg” season cereal crops
- Poor livestock body conditions in most pastoral areas of Ethiopia due to dry weather conditions affecting pasture and water
- Cereal prices increasing in June due to progress of lean season coupled with unfavorable prospects for “belg” season
- Food security conditions deteriorate in “belg” season dependent areas as well as in most pastoralist areas
Early forecast of 2015 “belg” crop production put at below average levels
Harvesting of minor “belg” season crops has just started, with about one month delay, and production is expected to be far below average due to unfavourable rains. March to May rains started in April in most of the “belg” growing regions causing delay in plantings and reduction in planted area. Subsequently, rains were erratic and below average, with prolonged dry spells which caused wilting of a significant proportion of crops. The most affected areas are northeastern Amhara, the highlands and midlands of eastern Oromia and eastern areas of SNNPR ( see red and orange areas in the ASI map), where ongoing harvesting operations are likely to be affected by current “meher” rains, with further declines on expected yields.
Planting of the 2015 main “meher” season crops is almost complete in key-producing areas of western Oromia, Amhara and Benishangul Gumuz regions. Area planted with long-cycle crops (maize, sorghum and millet) is expected to decline in some bi-modal rainfall areas due to the late start of the secondary “belg” rainy season that prevented farmers from a timely preparation of land, leading them to opt to plant more short-cycle crops (wheat and barley) with lower yields. Overall, the current outlook of germinating crops is good (see green areas on the ASI map) as adequate amounts of rainfall were received so far in most crop producing areas. The harvest is scheduled to start from October and production prospects are generally favourable, as “kiremt” rains are forecast at average to above‑average levels in most high potential western areas until the end of August.
Dry weather conditions affect pasture and water availability in most pastoral and agro-pastoral areas
Dry weather conditions prevailed in April and May in most pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of the country. According to the latest available satellite images, significant soil moisture deficits persist in most northern and southeastern pastoral areas, mainly in Afar, in northern and southeastern pastoral areas, mainly in Afar, in northern and southern Somali, and in the Borena zone in southern Oromia (see orange areas on the NDVI anomaly map). In these areas, poor rangeland conditions had a negative impact on livestock body conditions and herds have only partially returned from dry season grazing areas, with negative consequences on milk availability for most households. In “belg” areas of SNNPR, northeastern Amhara and lowlands in central and eastern Oromia, remote sensing images indicate near-normal pasture conditions in June; however, due to the delayed and below-average seasonal rainfall, forage growth is below normal, livestock body conditions remain poor and their productivity low.southern Somali, and in the Borena zone in southern Oromia (see orange areas on the NDVI anomaly map). In these areas, poor rangeland conditions had a negative impact on livestock body conditions and herds have only partially returned from dry season grazing areas, with negative consequences on milk availability for most households. In “belg” areas of SNNPR, northeastern Amhara and lowlands in central and eastern Oromia, remote sensing images indicate near-normal pasture conditions in June; however, due to the delayed and below-average seasonal rainfall, forage growth is below normal, livestock body conditions remain poor and their productivity low.
Cereal prices increasing in June
Wholesale prices of maize were generally stable until May and started to increase in June by up to 20 percent, due to the progress of the lean season, coupled with unfavourable prospects for the “belg” season crops. Similarly, in Addis Ababa, prices of wheat and red sorghum increased in June by 8 and 11 percent, respectively, while prices of white sorghum and teff were stable. Despite the recent increases, cereal prices in June are still below or around their levels of 12 months earlier, due to the ample availabilities from the bumper 2014 main “meher” harvest.
Food security conditions deteriorate in “belg” season dependent areas as well as in most pastoralist areas
Food security conditions are deteriorating in most “belg” dependent areas as the delayed harvest will prolong the lean season and the below-average harvest will be insufficient to replenish stocks. The areas of major concern are central-northern SNNPR, where the largest rainfall deficits were recorded and “belg” maize is one of the primary staple foods. In addition, most root crops and vegetables planted last November or December did not reach maturity due to very light “sapie” rains in January. As a result, poor households are resorting to negative coping strategies to purchase food, including selling livestock, firewood or charcoal, consuming immature enset (a tree with an edible, starchy root), or migrating in search of labour opportunities.
Among pastoralist areas, Afar region has registered the largest rainfall deficits during the March-May rainy season, with negative impacts on pasture conditions and availability. Some improvements are expected during the July to September “karan/karma” rainy season. In most southern pastoral areas, as the “deyr/hageya” rains are expected to start in October, the current below-average rangeland conditions are likely to further deteriorate during the June to September dry season, with consequent negative impact on livestock body conditions and productivity.
According to the 2015 Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) carried out by the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in January 2015, the number of people in need of relief food assistance in 2015 was estimated at 2.9 million, about 10 percent less than in mid-2014. The decreased humanitarian needs reflected the good performance of the June to September “kiremt” rains in 2014, which led to a good performance of the 2014 “meher” harvest and improved livestock body conditions in pastoral areas. Although the results of the 2015 mid-year review needs assessment conducted in early July are not yet available, the estimated number of people in need of relief food assistance is expected to increase significantly.
By late May, Ethiopia hosted about 700 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan. In particular, as of late June, over 275 000 refugees were from South Sudan. The total number of new arrivals from South Sudan since 15 December 2013, when the conflict erupted, is currently estimated at about 211 000, including about 208 000 in Gambella and 3 000 in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region. UNHCR appealed for USD 153.2 million to assist the South Sudanese refugees. As of late June, only USD 31 million were received. Financial constraints have seriously limited the level of interventions to date and environmental degradation in camps, the fragile ecosystem and the scarcity of resources have led to tensions between host communities and refugees in some locations.
Source: FAO: GIEWS Country Briefs