BY NECJOGHA TEAM
KAMPALA, UGANDA: An international famine early warning organisation has warned of a food crisis in the Karamoja region by September due to the below average rainfall it got in the long rain season and the effect of the disastrous Fall Armyworm.
“Although average to above-average rainfall in May and June has improved crop growth conditions, the first season bimodal harvest and Karamoja harvest are still expected to be late and below average. In bimodal areas, crop production deficits are expected to be 30-50 percent below average due to early season losses, reduced area planted, and Fall Army Worm incidence. In Karamoja, ploughing and planting are still on-going, but reduced area planted is expected to drive below-average production. Reduced food availability, rising staple food prices, and declining terms of trade continue to strain household food and income sources. Through September, Stressed outcomes are expected to persist in northeastern and and eastern bimodal areas of concern and Crisis is expected to persist in Karamoja,” a release on Friday June 15th by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said.
FEWSNET is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
The release goes on to say that in refugee settlements, humanitarian food assistance is planned, funded, and likely to guarantee a full ration through July. However it says that, WFP faces a funding shortfall of US$49 million for food assistance that is planned through November. FEWSNET warns that based on funding shortfalls, anticipated ration cuts would thereafter lead to a decline in food security, resulting in crisis outcomes.
“In Karamoja, a dry start of season similarly transitioned to above-average rainfall in late May and early June. The onset of the unimodal rainy season (April-September) was characterized by a delay of 20-30 days, with a false onset in early March in southern Karamoja. The rains did not establish until early to mid-May, and at the end of May, preliminary satellite-derived data indicated persistent deficits of 25-50 mm in southern Karamoja and 50-100 mm in northern Karamoja. However, heavy rainfall in early June brought seasonal totals to average and caused excessive soil moisture in some areas, hindering ploughing and planting activities,” the release said.
FEWSNET goes to explain that the poor start of season led to failed or stunted early-planted crops, significant delays in land preparation and planting, and widespread replanting. As a result, FEWS NET estimates that area planted in bimodal areas is between 60 and 80 percent of normal, and the normal timeline for crop development has been delayed by one month, pushing the start of the green harvest back to late-June/July. Maize, beans, sorghum, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, millet, cassava, and cow peas have been planted.
In general, crops that were replanted or planted late in April/May are in the vegetative stages in eastern and northern Uganda, attaining 15-45 percent growth. In the southwest and parts of Central Region where rainfall performance was relatively better, crops currently vary from the early to late reproductive stages, attaining 45-75 percent growth. Fall Army Worm (FAW) is prevalent, especially among late-planted maize crops in the early vegetative stages and is damaging the shoots and tender leaves.
However, some early-planted crops that survived in low-lying, wetter areas are at the advanced flowering to grain-filling stages. Pulses and maize planted in some wetland areas of Western, Central, and Eastern Regions are now being harvested for green consumption. The availability of seasonal wild and cultivated vegetables, which poor households normally consume in this period, has significantly improved.