- Early season dryness affected planting and establishment of second season crops in Eastern Region
First season cereal production in 2018 estimated at above-average levels
Delayed harvest and reduced cereal output in Karamoja Region due to floods and erratic rains
Prices of maize seasonally increasing in recent months but still at low levels
Pockets of severe food insecurity in Karamoja Region
Early season dryness affecting planting and establishment of second season crops in Eastern Region
In bi-modal rainfall areas, planting of the 2018 second season crops, to be harvested from December, was completed in October in most cropping areas. The September-December 2017 rainy season had a timely onset and a good performance so far over Central and Northern regions and most of Western Region, benefiting planting and establishment of crops. By contrast, in the Eastern Region and in southern parts of the Western Region (Isingiro, Kabale Mbarara, Ntungamo and Sheema districts), cumulative rainfall in September and October was 15-40 percent below average. In the south of the Western Region the precipitations received, although reduced, were still sufficient for the water requirements of crops and vegetation conditions are generally good, while in the Eastern Region, where rainfall deficits were more severe, planting delays and below-average crop conditions are reported. According to remote sensing information and analysis (see ASI map), by end-October, dryness was affecting up to 25 percent of the cropland in several areas of the Eastern Region and 25 to 55 percent of the cropland in Mayuge, Jinja, Luuka and Butaleja districts (see yellow and orange areas on the ASI map).
Rainfall amounts and distribution during the next weeks will be crucial for the outcome of the cropping season, especially in the areas affected by early season dryness.
Earlier in the year, production of the first season harvest, gathered in June and July, was estimated at above-average levels as yields benefited from exceptionally abundant March-May seasonal rains. Torrential rains triggered floods in several areas, but crop losses were limited and mainly localized in Mount Elgon, Teso and Kigezi areas. In addition, the impact of Fall Armyworm outbreaks was minimal as abundant rains suppressed the spread of the pest.
Delayed harvest and reduced cereal production in Karamoja Region
In the northeastern uni‑modal rainfall Karamoja Region, the 2018 harvest is about to be completed, more than one month later than normal. Excessive rains between April and June disrupted planting operations and resulted in flooding and waterlogging in lowland areas, forcing farmers to re-plant. Subsequently, erratic and below-average rainfall in July and August affected the establishment and development of re-planted crops. As a result, cereal production is estimated at well below-average levels, with the lowest output registered in Kotido and Kaabong districts. However, the abundant rains received during the first part of the rainy season prompted a substantial regeneration of rangeland resources and the increased availability of pasture and water for livestock resulted in an increase in milk production.
Maize prices still at low levels despite recent seasonal increases
Prices of maize declined in all monitored markets by about 40 percent between June and August 2018 as the first season harvest increased supplies. Subsequently, prices seasonally increased by 15-50 percent between August and October, but remained 25-40 percent below their year-earlier levels due to adequate domestic availabilities and reduced export demand from Kenya, where an above-average cereal production was obtained in 2018.
Pockets of severe food insecurity in Karamoja Region
The country is generally food secure, with chronic food insecurity at minimal levels in most bi-modal rainfall areas due to adequate domestic availabilities and low food prices. By contrast, in the Karamoja Region, households’ stocks are expected to be depleted by December, with an ensuing early start of the lean season. Typical coping strategies, including firewood and charcoal sales, hunting and gathering, and the availability of agricultural labour opportunities starting from February 2019 are likely to prevent most households from facing severe levels of food insecurity. However, vulnerable households in Kotido and Kaabong districts, where the most severe crop production shortfalls occurred, have already depleted their food stocks. As a result, despite recurring to unsustainable coping strategies, including selling productive assets and foregoing health and school expenditures, they are facing food consumption gaps and are expected to face severe levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3: “Crisis) until July 2019, when the 2019 green harvest will be available for consumption.
As of end-October 2018, the country hosts about 1.1 million refugees, including about 771 000 people from South Sudan, mainly sheltering in camps in northern Yumbe, Moyo, Arua, Adjumani and Lamwo districts. Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are estimated at about 243 000 and mainly reside in camps in southwestern Hoima and Kyegegwa districts. While the arrival rate of South Sudanese refugees has declined in 2018 compared to 2017, the refugee influx from the Democratic Republic of the Congo has sharply increased since late 2017, following the escalation of conflict in Ituri and North Kivu provinces.
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