Short rains now expected to be average to below average
The October to December short rains had an early to timely onset in western high potential and southern coastal marginal agricultural areas, but have yet to start elsewhere. A weak El Niño is still expected to develop but is now anticipated to have little effect on the greater East Africa region. As result, total cumulative seasonal rainfall is most likely to be average to below average. Early rainfall deficits in agricultural areas are likely to be compensated for by above-average soil moisture from the 2018 long rains, supporting normal crop development and maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
In marginal agricultural areas, land preparation activities for short rains production is underway, providing average agricultural labor opportunities. Early planting occurred in September in parts of Meru and Nyeri (Kieni) and southern coastal counties. Given the above-average long rains harvest, household stocks and low staple food prices are enabling most households to meet their minimum food needs, but some poor households in parts of Makueni, Lamu, and Embu (Mbeere) that had below-average production will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the short-cycle harvests begin in January.
In northern pastoral areas, forage and water resources are mostly above average. Milk production and livestock body conditions continue to improve and livestock prices in September were 30 to 67 percent above the five-year average, enhancing terms of trade and household purchasing power. However, Turkana, western Marsabit, and parts of Wajir are drier relative to other areas, and the short-term forecast suggests deficits may strengthen in early to mid-November. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist through January.
Wholesale and retail maize prices in the major reference markets across the country were up to 30 percent below the five-year average in September, driven primarily by high carryover stocks from the 2017/2018 season, above-average 2018 long rains production, and steady flows of regional cross-border imports. Bean price trends in September remained mixed due to below-average local production, average levels of cross-border imports, and the availability of substitutes like green grams, cowpeas, and pigeon peas.