Following a very poor secondary belg rainy season, the 2011 main kiremt/meher rains were generally timely, sufficient and well distributed in major producing areas.
National cereal and pulse production in 2011/12 is forecast at 22.78 million tonnes, comprising 21.15 million tonnes from the peasant sector, 633 000 tonnes from commercial farms and a forecast average belg harvest of about one million tonnes in 2012 assuming an average production.
Favourable rains, increased use of fertilizer and improved seeds, low impact of pests and diseases and some expansion in cultivated area have contributed to the favourable outturn.
Throughout the country, grain prices reached record levels in September-October 2011 and started to decrease with the arrival of the new crop, but remain still well above average levels. Prices have started to display unseasonable increases since February 2012.
Cereal import requirements in 2012 are estimated at about 835 000 tonnes of which 500 000 tonnes are anticipated to be imported commercially.
Favorable deyr rains in October/December alleviated water and pasture shortages in most of Somali and southern Oromia with improved livestock body conditions, but the full recovery of the sector may need several average seasons to overcome the negative effects of the recent drought.
An estimated 3.2 million people will require relief food assistance in the first half of 2012, with a significant decrease from 4.5 million people during the second half of 2011. Projections for the remaining part of the year will mainly depend on the outcome of the 2012 belg and gu (March to June/July) rainy seasons.
Most affected households continue to be pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in Somali and eastern and south-eastern Oromia due to lingering impacts of the 2010/11 drought. Pockets of food insecurity are also in Afar, Amhara, Tigray, Gambella and SNNPR due to adverse weather conditions.
Considering all food assistance programmes including relief food assistance, the Productive Safety Net programme, refugee operations, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and school feeding programmes, Ethiopia requires 929 000 tonnes cereals to meet the need of about 13.7 million beneficiaries. Out of this, 327 000 tonnes will be required for relief assistance during the first half of 2012.
Food assistance requirements will be met through local purchases complimented by commercial imports and food aid.
Current forecast for the 2012 belg/gu/ganna seasons show a high probability of below normal rainfall impacting negatively on the availability of pasture and water conditions in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in south-eastern Ethiopia (for every 1 million people in need of relief food assistance, additional 16 800 tonnes of cereals will be required per month).