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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 14-September-2016


  1. Slightly below average production of 2016 secondary “belg” season crops

  2. Favourable prospects for 2016 main “meher” season crops

  3. Cereal prices are generally at high levels

  4. Number of people in need of assistance slightly declines, but food insecurity remains high

Production of 2016 secondary “belg” crops slightly below average

Harvesting of the secondary “belg” season crops has been recently completed, with some delay following a late onset of the rainy season. Yields in southern Tigray, eastern Oromia and eastern Amhara regions have been affected by inadequate soil moisture both at the beginning and at the end of the season. In addition, excessive rainfall in April/May caused localized water logging and flooding with ensuing losses of standing crops. By contrast, better yields have been obtained in SNNPR and central Oromia regions, where average to above‑average cumulative rains were received in April and May, offsetting the impact of early season dryness. As a result, cereal production is estimated at about 1 500 tonnes, slightly below‑average levels, but well above last year’s output (only 760 tonnes) that was severely reduced by the El Niño‑induced drought.

Favourable prospects for 2016 main “meher” crops

Prospects of the 2016 main “meher” season crops, to be harvested starting from October, are generally good. “Kiremt” (June-September) rains started on time and have been favourable across the country, except in parts of SNNPR and eastern Oromia region (in particular in Arsi, West Arsi, East and West Haraghe woredas), where germinating crops have been affected by below-average precipitations. In SNNPR, where the “belg” harvest was substantially delayed, farmers opted to plant short-cycle “meher” crops, such as some varieties of wheat, teff and legumes, due to the shortened period for crop development.

Prices of most cereals at high levels

Prices of maize, which were relatively stable in recent months, increased in August by 10‑15 percent despite the increase in supply from the recent “belg” harvest, as heavy rains and floods caused crop losses and disrupted marketing operations in some areas. August prices, compared with their levels of 12 months earlier, were about 15 percent higher in the capital, Addis Ababa, and up to 25 percent higher in the other monitored markets. In Addis Ababa, prices of white sorghum and teff were firm in recent months and in August they were both 20 percent higher than one year earlier. By contrast, prices of wheat, partly imported, have been decreasing by 18‑20 percent over the past 12 months, as the upward pressure on prices exerted by tight domestic availabilities was offset by sustained imports and declining international prices.

Prices of other food products are also higher than 12 months earlier. In August 2016, the year‑on‑year rate of inflation was 10‑12 percent for meat, milk, cheese and eggs, and fruits. At regional level, the highest rates of food inflation were recorded in Afar (12.7 percent) and Tigray (17 percent) regions, due to the upward pressure exerted on prices by the lingering effects of the 2015 drought.

Food insecurity levels remain high in drought‑affected regions

As a result of the impact of the 2015 drought on last year’s “belg” and “meher” crop productions as well as on grazing resources in northern areas of the country, food security conditions have sharply deteriorated since mid‑2015, with the estimated number of food insecure people increasing from 4.5 million in August to 10.2 million during the first semester of 2016. According to the August 2016 revision of the Humanitarian Requirements Document, following the start of the “belg” harvest, the number of people in need of assistance has been downward revised to 9.7 million. At the same time, the number of priority woredas slightly decreased from 429 to 420. Most food insecure people are still concentrated in eastern areas of Oromia, Amhara and Tigray regions as well as in Afar and northern Somali regions.

Overall food security conditions will improve by October as “meher” crops start to be available for local consumption. However, the situation is not expected to change for most agro‑pastoral households in southern and southeastern areas. Here, “deyr” (October-December) rains are forecast to be below average due to the likely occurrence of La Niña, with negative consequences on pasture availability and livestock body conditions.

Currently, Ethiopia is the largest refugee‑hosting country in Africa, with about 738 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan. Financial constraints have seriously limited the level of humanitarian assistance so far and the environmental degradation in camps, the fragile ecosystem and the scarcity of resources have led to tensions between host communities and refugees in some locations.