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Prices of coarse grains at overall high levels across the subregion

09/10/2019

Prices of coarse grains followed mixed trends in September across the subregion but were overall at high levels, well above those a year earlier, due to reduced harvests in several countries and to the strong depreciation of the local currencies in the Sudan and South Sudan. In Kenya, prices of maize declined in September mainly due to imports of recently harvested crops from Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. The maize inflows eased the upward pressure exerted by the unfavourable prospects for the main “long-rains” crop, to be harvested from November, and by the significant production shortfalls recorded in marginal agricultural areas where the harvest was concluded in August. However, despite the recent declines, prices in September remained up to twice their year-earlier levels. In Ethiopia, prices of maize continued to increase in September, with seasonal patterns exacerbated by reduced supplies from the recently completed secondary “Belg” harvest, affected by poor seasonal rains. September prices were well above their year-earlier levels. In Somalia, prices of sorghum and maize increased unseasonally in August in key markets of the South, as the output of the recently completed “Gu” main harvest was sharply reduced due to severe dryness. Prices of coarse grains in August were significantly higher than in the same month last year. In Uganda, prices of maize continued to decrease or held relatively stable in September after declining by more than 20 percent in August, as the first season harvest, normally completed in July but delayed to August due to early season dryness, increased supplies. However, prices remained above their year-earlier levels due to a drought-reduced output and sustained foreign demand, mainly from Kenya. In the United Republic of Tanzania, prices of maize levelled off or continued to increase in September after surging in recent months, with seasonal patterns compounded by strong demand from Kenya and Southern African countries. September prices were well above their year-earlier values. In the Sudan, prices of sorghum and millet followed mixed trends in September and were generally at near-record to record levels, due to a weak currency, coupled with fuel shortages and high prices of agricultural inputs affecting production and transportation costs. In South Sudan, prices of coarse grains continued their recent increasing trend in September, as the downward pressure exerted by increased supplies from the recently completed first season harvest was offset by a significant further depreciation of the country’s currency on the parallel market. In addition to the sustained depreciation of the currency, the exceptionally high prices reached in September were supported by the overall tight domestic supply situation and the lingering impact of the prolonged conflict.