Reference Date: 23-January-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Favourable prospects for 2014 main “meher” season crop production
Harvesting of the 2014 main “meher” season cereal crops is complete. Cereal production from the smallholder sector is estimated at about 20 million tonnes, slightly above the level of the 2013 good harvest. Main season “kiremt” rains (June-September) have been generally abundant and well-distributed in most major western growing areas of Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz and western Oromia regions. Here, “kiremt” rains continued until mid-November, benefitting yields of late-planted varieties. By contrast, rains were late by two/four weeks, erratic and below average in some marginal producing areas of eastern Amhara (Wag Hamira and North Gonder zones), lowlands of Oromia (East and West Hararghe, Arsi, Borena, Bale and Guji zones) and parts of southern and eastern Tigray regions, reducing yields of long-cycle maize and sorghum crops which have been already affected by the early cessation of “belg” rains at planting time. In September and October, heavy rains in the highlands resulted in large-scale floods in Afar, Somali, SNNPR, Oromia, Tigray and Gambella regions, with significant displacements of people and damage to standing crops and pastures.
In southern and southeastern areas, the “deyr/hagaya” rains (October-December) started on time, but have been characterized by below-average amounts, prolonged dry spells and early cessation at the end of November. Despite the non-uniform distribution pattern of seasonal rains, the availability of grazing resources improved in most areas, leading to better livestock body conditions. However, early migrations of herds in search of pasture are reported in Dollo and Borena zones, along the border with Kenya. In northern Afar pastoral areas, “xays/dada” rains (October-February) have been well below-average, leading to poor pasture conditions (see NDVI anomaly map on the right).
Cereal prices decline or remain stable in most markets
Prices of maize declined by 10-20 percent in most monitored markets between July and October as crops from the “belg” harvest increased supplies. Subsequently, prices slightly increased in November following seasonal patterns and started to decline in December with the commercialization of newly-harvested crops from the main 2014 “meher” harvest. Prices of maize in December were between 3 and 30 percent below the levels of 12 months earlier in most markets, while in the capital, Addis Ababa, they were 8 percent higher due to sustained local demand. In Addis Ababa, prices of red sorghum have been decreasing since May, and in December they were 30 percent lower than 12 months earlier, while prices of wheat, teff and white sorghum were mostly stable in recent months, and in December they were around the same levels of one year earlier.
Food security conditions continue to improve as the “meher” season harvest progresses
The lean season in most “meher” producing areas ended last October with the beginning of the green harvest. Food security conditions have gradually improved as the “meher” harvest progresses and new crops become available for consumption. In western surplus-producing areas, harvest labour opportunities are increasing the purchasing power of poor households, improving their access to food. However, access to food is likely to quickly deteriorate in areas that received below-average rains and production of long-cycle crops such as northeastern Amhara, eastern and southern Tigray, the lowlands of East Hararghe zone in Oromia, northeastern Afar and some pockets in southern Somali region.
According to the mid-year review of the 2014 Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) carried out by the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in August 2014, the number of people in need of relief food assistance until the end of 2014 was estimated at 3.2 million, about 18.5 percent more than in the first half of the year. The increased humanitarian needs reflected the below-average performance of the 2014 “belg” season crops in northeastern Afar, southern SNNP and Tigray regions as well as in south and southeastern pastoralist areas.
By mid-January 2014, Ethiopia hosted about 656 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan. In particular, over 258 000 refugees are from South Sudan whose number rose quickly during the first six months of last year, with a peak of about 65 000 arrivals only during the month of June. Currently, the rate of new arrivals to Ethiopia from South Sudan has remained relatively low as the rainy season has drawn to an end, with 870 new arrivals entering since 1 December 2014.