By Frank Lukwago, New Vision/NECJOGHA
Kampala, Uganda – Given expected below average production, prices of most staple foods in Uganda apart from cassava are expected to remain near to above the 2018 average until the next harvest.
This is contained in a food security outlook released at the beginning of this month by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) for the period July-September 2019 and October 2019- January 2020.
FEWSNET is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. It was created in 1985 by the US government’s development arm, USAID to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises; FEWSNET provides evidence-based analysis on 28 countries.
The outlook notes that staple food prices in bimodal areas across the country peaked in May and began to decline in June with the arrival of new harvests, as increased supplies are reaching deficit areas. Retail bean prices declined 13-26 percent in June across eight reference markets in bimodal areas, but prices remain about 20 percent above the June 2018 and five-year averages. Maize prices remained stable or declined by 10 percent from May to June and remained stable with respect to June 2018 and five-year averages, while cassava chips traded 41 and 53 percent below the 2018 and 5-year averages, respectively.
On a positive note, FEWSNET says that above-average rainfall in June and July has substantially improved crop yields in Uganda although atypically heavy rainfall in localized areas in Eastern Region destroyed some crops and property and elevated the risk of post-harvest losses.
“It is now estimated that bimodal crop production is more likely to be approximately 30 percent below average, compared to earlier estimates of 30 to 50 percent below average. As household food stocks are replenished, the proportion of poor households experiencing food crisis in bimodal areas of concern in eastern and northern regions is expected to decline.” says the outlook,
The outlook goes on to say that though Karamoja region is now faced with food stress due to low food availability and access, the region received atypically moderate to heavy rainfall amounts during June and July, a period usually marked by dry spells.
“This increased wild food availability and improved cropping and pasture conditions to average and above average levels, respectively, leading to an increase in income earning opportunities in some areas. Conversely, localized areas are experiencing transient water-logging unfavorable for crop growth. Sorghum prices remained significantly above the five-year and 2018 averages in June, though prices tended to remain stable or decline compared to May in most markets. Prices continued to rise in Moroto and Kotido, climbing to 32 and 34 percent above the 2018 average, respectively, and 108 and 32 percent above the five-year average, respectively,” the outlook says.