Reference Date: 02-September-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
The 2014 main “gu” season cereal harvest is forecast at below‑average levels due to poor seasonal rainfall
Harvesting of the 2014 main “gu” season coarse grain is almost complete and cereal production is forecast at well below-average levels. In most central and northeastern (Puntland) regions, the “gu” rainy season (April-June) started in late April, with a delay of about three weeks. In southern regions, rains began earlier than usual in late March in parts (including Bay, southern Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba), allowing for early planting of sorghum and cowpea crops. However, during the whole month of April, rains were well below average and erratic in southern regions, affecting crops in the crucial establishment phase. Rains resumed in most parts of the country at the beginning of May, but had an early cessation in the last dekad of the month. As a result, between the last dekad of May and early June, a crucial period for crop development and pasture regeneration, most of the southern regions (Shabelle, Hiran, Bakool and large parts of Gedo), parts of central regions (most of coastal Deeh pastoral and Cowpea Belt agro-pastoral livelihood zones), and northwestern regions (Awdal and most parts of Woqooyi Galbeed) largely remained dry.
In addition, the escalation of conflict last March in parts of Lower and Middle Shabelle, Hiran, Bakool and Gedo, did cause temporary displacement of many farmers and hampered land preparation. Accordingly, the 2014 “gu” season coarse grains production is forecast at about 28 percent below the average of the last five years.
Rainfall forecasts indicate positive “deyr” rains in southern and central regions
The seasonal climate outlook for the Greater Horn of Africa recently issued by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) indicates that the 2014 “deyr” rains (end-September to November) are expected to be average to above average in most southern and central regions, including part of the Ethiopian highlands which contribute significantly to both Juba and Shabelle river flow inside Somalia. There are concerns for riverine flooding, especially in the middle and lower sections of the Shabelle river, which are characterized by weak river embankments. Below-average rains are forecast in northern pastoral areas of Puntland and Somaliland. The favourable rains in southern and central regions, if realized, would benefit “deyr” cereal crops, to be planted from mid-September, as well as grazing resources.
Aggregate cereal production for 2014 (including an average level forecast for the 2014/15 “deyr” season crops to be harvested early next year) is put at 227 000 tonnes, about 18 percent below last five-years average. Import requirements for 2014/15 marketing year (June-July) are forecast at a high level of 620 000 tonnes. The country has been able to import commercially between 320 000 and 400 000 tonnes during the last five years.
Cereal prices remain at very high levels in most markets
Between June and July, prices of locally produced coarse grains were at very high/record levels in most markets, but began to ease the rate of increase since last March following the start of the 2014 “gu” harvest. Prices of maize and sorghum rose by 40-75 percent from March to July in the most retail markets. Exceptional increases, with doubling the price of early 2014, have been registered in Hudur town and in some markets in Middle Shabelle and Hiraan due also to the scaling back of humanitarian assistance operations, partly caused by access constraints due to insecurity. Prices of imported rice were stable in recent months at around the same levels of a year earlier, due to low prices on the international market and improved functioning of main entry ports.
Worsening food security situation
According to the results of the latest multi-agency assessment, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance (IPC Phases 3 and 4, Crisis and Emergency levels) is estimated at over one million, including about 220 000 children under the age of five years. This figure represents an increase of about 20 percent since last January, mainly due to high food prices and the renewed conflict which caused disruption of trade flows and hampered delivery of humanitarian assistance. The majority of severely food insecure people (62 percent) is represented by IDPs, followed by rural (27 percent) and urban (11 percent) populations. About 2.1 million people are classified at IPC Phase 2 (Stressed level) and their food security conditions risk to further deteriorate in case of shocks.
Cereal stocks from the 2014 below-average “gu” harvest are expected to be quickly depleted and the food supply security conditions are likely to deteriorate until the end of the year when next “deyr” harvest begins. In pastoral areas, the establishment of “deyr” rains in October is expected to bring some relief to drought-affected grazing resources, with positive effects on animal body conditions, milk production and kidding/lambing rates.