français    español
GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

30 April 2009

Eritrea Update - Sustained High Cereal Prices Cause for Serious Concern


In Eritrea, the price of wheat flour and sorghum increased notably since February 2008 but has shown some stabilisation during January and February 2009, following the main harvest in November/December. Between September 2008 and February 2009 the price of wheat flour, which is mostly imported, increased by 6 percent in the main port town of Massawa. Similarly, during the same period, the price of sorghum increased by 20 percent. This substantial price rise will negatively and significantly impact on the food security of the population, particularly in rural areas where sorghum is the main staple. Furthermore, US dollar based prices in Eritrea, using official exchange rate, indicate considerably higher price levels as compared to regional neighbours.

In 2008, below average rainfall during the main “kremti” growing season resulted in reduced cereal production. Satellite based estimates made by the Joint Research Centre of the EC last year indicate the level of production at about 200 000 tonnes, about half of the previous year. The vegetation index from September 2008 verifies the poor vegetation growth, except for the western Gash Barka region, which exhibited moderate growth. Overall, however, total domestic cereal production covers less than half the national cereal requirement.

In 2009, the “bahri” rainy season, which normally lasts from October to February and is important for pasture regeneration and the coastal secondary season crop production, was delayed and only began during late December 2008. The below average vegetation index for February 2009 confirms the poor performance of the bahri rains.