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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 14-January-2019


  1. Favourable prospects for 2018 main “meher” season

  2. Reduced 2018 “belg” secondary season harvest in parts of Tigray and Amhara regions due to erratic rains

  3. Below-average “deyr” rains curbing drought recovery in southeastern pastoral areas

  4. Prices of maize declining in recent months and at low levels due to adequate domestic availabilities

  5. Food insecure caseload estimated at a high 7.95 million

  6. Major concerns exist for the Somali Region, where large segments of population require urgent humanitarian assistance

Favourable prospects for 2018 main “meher” cereal crop production

Harvest of the 2018 main “meher” season crops is almost complete and prospects are generally favourable. In key producing areas of western Oromia, Amhara and Benishangul Gumuz regions, the initial stages of the June-September 2018 “kiremt” rains were characterized by an early onset in May and by above-average rainfall in June. The abundant rains benefited planting activities and germination as well as the establishment of long-cycle crops, including maize, sorghum and millet. Subsequently, precipitations remained at average to above-average levels, except in some areas of western Oromia Region, where cumulative rains in August and September 2018 were up to 30 percent below average. However, in most of these areas, the rains received were sufficient for cereal grain setting and ripening. According to remote sensing data and information, vegetation conditions in late September 2018, immediately before the start of harvesting activities, were generally good, except in eastern parts of East Wellega zone in western Oromia Region, where the late season rainfall deficits were more severe (see ASI map). Unseasonal rains in October and November 2018 in some areas of Tigray, Amhara and Oromia regions have hindered harvest and storage activities and localized yield reductions are likely.

Mixed performance of secondary season “belg” harvest

T he minor “belg” harvest was gathered in June-July 2018 and its output was estimated at near-average levels, as the February-to-May rainy season had a mixed performance. In southern and central areas cropping areas in SNNP, central and eastern Oromia regions, crops benefited from abundant and well-distributed seasonal rains. By contrast, over northern areas in southern Tigray and eastern Amhara regions, crops were affected by erratic rains and planted area and cereal production were respectively reported at about 25 and 50 percent below average.

Below-average “deyr” rains curbing drought recovery in southeastern pastoral areas

In pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of the southern Somali Region, the April-June 2018 “gu” rainy season was characterized by exceptionally abundant precipitations, which offset the moisture deficits accumulated during a severe and prolonged drought between mid-2016 and late 2017 and prompted a substantial regeneration of rangeland resources. The increase in water and pasture availability resulted in a marked improvement in livestock body conditions and allowed animal conception and reproduction. However, as livestock numbers had sharply decreased in 2017 due to drought-induced losses, herds remained below average. Subsequently, the October-December 2018 “deyr” rains were delayed by about two weeks and cumulative precipitations were 15-35 percent below average. As a result, pasture regeneration was only partial and, as of late December 2018, vegetation conditions were below average in several areas of the region, especially in southern parts (see Vegetation Condition Index Map). Coupled with the faster than normal depletion of rangeland resources expected during the incoming January-March dry season, it will curb the recovery of pastoralist livelihoods from the severe drought-induced losses incurred in 2017. Pasture conditions are also below average in northern pastoral areas of Afar Region, where the July-September 2018 “karan/karma” rains had a poor performance.

Prices of cereals declining in recent months

Prices of locally produced maize seasonally increased by 5-15 percent between January and July 2018, levelling off in August as the “belg” season harvest increased supplies. After some increases in September, maize prices declined by 5-15 percent in October and November 2018 with the start of the main “meher” season harvest. Prices of maize in November 2018 were 10-25 percent lower than their year-earlier levels due to adequate domestic availabilities, except in the capital, Addis Ababa, where they were 17 percent higher than 12 months earlier due to sustained local demand. Prices of wheat, partly imported, slightly declined in most monitored markets in November 2018 as newly harvested crops increased supplies, but remained about 40 percent higher than 12 months earlier due to the steady depreciation of the local currency.

In 2018, prices of livestock increased in the southern Somali Region due to generally improved animal body conditions and lower supplies resulting from severe losses during the 2016/17 drought and currently they are at high levels. In Warder market, prices of goats in November 2018 were 23 percent above their year-earlier levels. As a result of increasing livestock prices and generally stable cereal prices, terms of trade for pastoralists improved over the last 12 months. In Warder, the equivalent in maize of one medium-size goat in November 2018 was 25 percent higher than one year earlier. However, these food access gains are largely potential, as herders are engaged in repopulating their herds and have few animals to sell.

Upsurge in inter-communal violence resulting in displacements and livelihood losses

In mid-2018, the food insecure caseload was estimated at 7.95 million, slightly above the estimate at the beginning of the year and 6 percent below the caseload of one year earlier, at the height of the impact of the 2016/17 drought. Food availability and access in drought-hit southeastern pastoralist areas improved with the abundant March-May 2018 “gu” rains, but an upsurge in inter-communal conflicts in several regions resulted in widespread displacements and livelihood losses. Severe insecurity in Oromia, SNNP, Somali and Benishangul Gumuz regions caused the displacement of 1.44 million people during 2018, bringing the total IDP caseload to 2.4 million. The areas most affected by food insecurity are southern and eastern Oromia, Afar and Somali regions. Major concerns exist for the Somali Region, where the food insecure caseload was estimated in mid-2018 at 1.8 million (more than 30 percent of the region’s population) and, in particular, for its southern parts, where all districts are classified as priority 1 “hotspot woredas”. The main drivers of the severe food insecurity levels are the lingering effects of the 2016/17 drought, which caused massive livestock losses due to deaths and distress sales, and widespread displacements along the Somali-Oromia border, which resulted in livelihood losses and in the disruption of trade flows, affecting cereal supplies from western key-growing areas.

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