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Reference Date: 06-April-2018


  1. Poor “kiremti” June-September rains resulted in reduced 2017 cereal harvest

  2. Major crop production shortfalls occurred in Gash Barka Region, main cereal producing area

  3. Moisture deficits affect grazing resources in pastoral coastal areas

Reduced 2017 harvest due to poor “kiremti” rains

Harvesting of the 2017 main season crops was completed in December 2017 and cereal production is estimated at below average levels. According to satellite-based estimates, the 2017 “kiremti” rains, which normally extend from late June to September, had a timely onset with abundant and well-distributed early season rains over most key cropping areas in central and western Anseba, Debub, Maekel and Gash Barka regions. However, a prolonged dry spell between mid-July and early August 2017 had a negative impact on vegetation conditions and crop development. Rains resumed in August and continued in September offsetting moisture deficits and lifting crop prospects in Anseba, Debub and Maekel regions. By contrast, rains continued to be poor in Gash Barka Region, which accounts for more than half of domestic cereal production and, coupled with higher than normal land surface temperatures, resulted in severe crop production shortfalls. In particular, in Mensura and Mogolo sub-zobas, where about 13 500 and 9 900 hectares were planted with cereals, it is reported that the drought resulted in total crop failure, with serious consequences in terms of food security and seed availability for the 2018 season. In these areas, dry conditions also affected livestock rearing activities as pasture and water deficits resulted in poor livestock body conditions.

Poor “kiremti” rains also affected crop production in marginal agricultural areas on the highlands of the coastal Northern Red Sea Region. Here, it is reported that drought conditions resulted in the total failure of barley, wheat and millet crops and in up to 80 percent losses of sorghum crops.

In pastoral coastal areas, the “bahri” (December-March) rains have been characterized by a delayed onset and below average amounts and current vegetation conditions are very poor (see Vegetation Health Index map).

To respond to the needs of drought-affected farmers in the Gash Barka district, in 2018 FAO plans to assist about 11 000 agro-pastoralist households in Mensura and Mogolo sub-districts through the provision of improved millet and sorghum seeds and the implementation of a vaccination programme for cattle, sheep and goats, with an estimated budget of about USD 500 000.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.