GIEWS Country Brief: Somalia 20-July-2012
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Poor and erratic 2012 “gu” rains affected cereal crops in southern and central regions
Good availability of pasture and water in most pastoral areas
Prices of coarse grains are stable at relatively low levels in main markets
Number of food insecure people expected to remain stable under continued humanitarian support
Unfavourable prospects for 2012 “gu” crops in southern and central Somalia
In most parts of the country, the 2012 “gu” rainy season (April to June) started late by 2-3 weeks and overall precipitation was below average and unevenly distributed in time and space. With the exception of northern regions that received favourable “gu” rains, below average rainfall levels were registered in southern agro-pastoral regions of Middle/Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, Bakool, Hiran, Gedo and parts of Bay (that normally produce two thirds of the national sorghum production). Prolonged dry spells (up to 35 days of moisture stress) and an outbreak of crickets affecting seedlings have resulted in several re-plantings with a significant reduction in crop established area as compared to the initial area planted. Dry weather conditions have also affected agro-pastoral areas in some central and northern areas such as parts of the Sool plateau, Nugal Valley, Addun and Coastal Deeh.
Harvesting operations of 2012 “gu” cereal crops are expected to start in August, about one month later than usual, and production in South-Central rain-fed areas is forecast at below average levels (but still above last year’s drought-affected output). Conversely, better production prospects are expected for the maize crop in riverine areas of Lower and Middle Shabelle due to relatively better availability of irrigation facilities. In the Northwest, maize and sorghum production is currently forecast at average levels, but the final output will be determined by the impact of “karan” rains, expected to start from the end of July.
The coastal areas of the Shabelle and Juba Valleys, as well as parts of Bay, are already receiving some “hagaa” rains (June to August) that are forecast to be average to above average, reversing moisture deficits and increasing the likelihood of good off-season crops to be harvested in September.
Good conditions of grazing resources in most pastoral areas
In most pastoral areas, pasture and water availabilities have improved following the last good “deyr” season (October to December) and the recent “gu” rains. Herd size of sheep and goats started to improve since the beginning of the year, while cattle and camels are expected to start calving soon leading to better availability of milk. An early depletion of grazing resources is expected in Coastal Deeh in parts of Addun, Sool and Nugal regions, and in the cowpea belt of central regions as a consequence of poor and erratic 2012 “gu” rains. Recently started “hagaa” rains are however expected to improve rangeland conditions along the southern coastal areas.
Maize and sorghum prices remain stable and low
During the last twelve months, prices of local cereal staples have sharply declined from their peak in June 2011 and have been relatively stable at low levels since the first months of 2012. The recent trend is essentially due to the good supply of cereals in main markets following the above average 2011/12 “deyr” harvest, the off-season cereal production harvested in March/April and the substantial cereal imports for humanitarian assistance. Compared to last year, maize and sorghum prices have declined between 50 and 80 percent in the main producing areas, while minor decreases of only 10-15 percent were recorded in northern cereal deficit areas. In particular, in June 2012, prices of maize in the main markets of the capital Mogadishu and Marka, located in the main maize producing southern region of Lower Shabelle, were respectively 62 and 75 percent below the levels of one year earlier. Similarly, sorghum prices in June 2012 in Baidoa market, located in the sorghum belt, were 75 percent below the peaks reached in June 2011.
Prices of imported rice continued their declining trend that started in September 2011, although at a slower rate in recent months. In all monitored markets, current rice prices are down by up to 40 percent compared to last year, mainly due to lower international prices, the slight appreciation of the Somali Shilling against the US dollar and the increase of supplies following the reopening of the Mogadishu port.
Livestock prices have increased during last six months in most markets as a consequence of generally improved animal body conditions, an increased demand (including for export, mainly to Saudi Arabia) and a reduced supply following the impact of recent droughts on herd size, especially in the South.
Continued humanitarian assistance needed to avoid worsening of the food security situation
The rapid preliminary “gu” season assessment carried out by FAO's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) in June 2012, indicated that the total number of food insecure people is likely to remain unchanged in the second half of 2012 provided that current levels of humanitarian support (cash and food) to 3.4 million people are guaranteed.
On the other hand, food security conditions are gradually deteriorating in some southern and central agro-pastoral areas of Bay, Bakool, Gedo, Hiran, and Middle and Lower Juba regions. In addition to the civil insecurity and armed conflict that continue to represent major threats to food security, these areas are experiencing a prolonged lean season following the delay of the “gu” harvest. Improvements are only expected from early September when the bulk of the newly harvested “gu” crops are commercialized.
By contrast, the food security situation is improving in most pastoral areas (except along central and northern coastlines affected by dry weather conditions) following favourable terms-of-trade for livestock and in urban Mogadishu. In the capital city, the enhanced security situation has allowed the re-opening of main markets and households’ food access has significantly improved due to low food prices, stable/rising casual labour wage rates and increasing flow of remittances.