FEWS bulletin -- September 26, 1997

Originally published
Rainfall in eastern and northeastern Ethiopia was below average in August and insufficient to maintain normal crop development. While these are normally marginal agricultural areas, accounting for only about 10 percent of national production, poor harvests seriously increase local food insecurity.

Rainfall in most of the major crop-producing areas (western Oromiya and western Amhara Regions and West Tigray Zone) has been average to above average for the meher (main) season so far. Because maize and sorghum crops in some areas (South Wello and North Shewa Zones and parts of North Wello Zone) are normally planted at the end of the belg (secondary) rains, the poor 1997 belg rains delayed planting of these meher crops. Consequently, these crops are behind their normal development stages and will achieve full maturity only if rains continue until at least the end of September in those areas.

If the rains continue through their normal end, production in the major producing areas could be around the 1992 - 96 average, while production in the east and northeast will be 50 percent below average in the midlands and highlands and considerably lower in the lowlands. However, if rains end early, production in the major producing areas is expected to be slightly below average, while most crops in the east would be 60 to 80 percent below average.

Cereal prices rose steadily in August, continuing a trend that started in May. This price rise is symptomatic of dwindling grain stocks and concerns that the current El Niño may bring about a poor harvest. Terms of trade in pastoral areas also continued to worsen as a result of higher grain prices as well as livestock prices that had yet to fully recover from the low levels they reached during last year's drought.

Even under the most favorable circumstances, many groups in Ethiopia, particularly those in marginal crop-producing areas, will be more food insecure this year due to insufficient household food stocks and lack of income. Emergency food will be necessary to ensure that food is available for vulnerable populations. Specific needs will be quantified after the annual crop assessment missions planned for November.

The FEWS bulletin is published for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Africa Bureau, Assistant Administrator, Disaster Response Coordination (AFR/AA/DRC) by: The FEWS Project, No. 698-0491 (Contract No. AOT-0491-C-00-5021-00), ARD, Inc. Contractor: Associates in Rural Development, Inc., Burlington, VT.

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This document should not be construed as an official Agency pronouncement. Comments and suggestions regarding the FEWS bulletin should be addressed to the FEWS Director at the address below.

FEWS Project
ARD, Inc.

1611 N. Kent Street, Suite 1002
Arlington, VA 22209 USA
Telephone: 703-522-7722