Improved Meher rains in June 2019 may lead to average 2019 Meher harvests in Ethiopia


 ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Harvests in Ethiopia are expected to improve due to the rains received between June to September 2019.

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. 

According to the National Meteorological Agency, Ethiopia has three seasons classified based on temperature and rainfall activity during the entire season. The three seasons are locally known as Bega (October to January), Belg (February to May) and Kiremt or Meher (June to September). During Bega dry and cold weather conditions prevail over much of the country. Belg is the short rainy season for northeast, east, central and southern highland while the main rain season for south and southeast portions and Kiremt is main rain season across much of Ethiopia except south and southeast of the country.

FEWSNET says that Kiremt rainfall from June to September 2019 had an overall timely start, and so far, has had average distribution and total rainfall, except in localized areas in the East and North East   of the country. Farmers are therefore carrying out land preparations and planting of Meher crops. Total Meher production is likely to be average despite poor Belg rains in late April and early May in the east, south, and north of the country that affected the planting of long-cycle crops. Most Belg crops are atypically at vegetative, flowering or seed setting stages except in localized areas where rain fed Belg green harvests have started.  In southern Ethiopia, root vegetables, vegetable, and cabbage harvests are supplementing food needs for poorer household in addition to humanitarian assistance.  

“Supplies of staple foods in local markets across the country remain unseasonably low as the Belg harvest is late to begin. Demand for staple foods has substantially increased as own production no longer covers poor households’ food needs and poor households are now reliant on markets. As a result, food prices have continued to steady increase since February 2019. The wholesale price of maize in Hosanna market in May 2019 was about 865 Birr/100kg, which is 4.2 percent higher than in April 2019, 9.5 percent higher than in May 2018 and 36.3 percent higher than the five-year average. In Woldia market in Northeastern Amhara, sorghum prices in June 2019 were about 2365 ETB/100kg, which is 128 percent higher than May 2018 and 102 percent higher than the five-year average,” the outlook says.

FEWSNET continues that in pastoral areas livestock and local cereal prices are increasing at a similar rate, but unfortunately the average goat to maize terms of trade (ToT) remains unfavorable for pastoralists. This is driven by both below-average cereal availability and increasing cereal prices. In Dhegahbour market of the Somali region, the sale of an average local goat bought 100 kgs of maize in June 2019, which is less than in June 2018 when it could buy 130 kgs, but better than the five-year average when it could buy 82 kg. In Kebridehar market in Korahe zone, the sale of an average local goat bought 100 kgs of white maize in June 2019, which is less than in June 2018 when it could buy 130 kgs and also less than the five-year average when it could buy 105 kg.



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