Good Outlook for Cereal Production in Southern Somalia
In June, the FSAU and FAO Field Monitors have jointly completed the 2000 gu crop establishment assessment in all agricultural regions of southern Somalia. The field reports indicate that there is a fairly good prospect of cereal production (sorghum and maize) in this Gu season.The total planted area in this Gu season is estimated at 389,900 Ha, of which 59% sorghum and 41% maize. This area is 23% higher than the cropped area in gu 1999 but similar to the gu 1997. Main reasons for increased cropped areas include: (i) Good and widely distributed rainfall in the first dekad of May; (ii) Cash input from deyr-sesame in Shabelle and Juba valleys; (iii) More people engage in seasonal farming as an income generating activity; (iv) Improved security in many agricultural areas of southern Somalia facilitate farming activities and population return; (v) Seed aid distribution in many agriculturally important areas; and (vi) Rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure in the Shabelle valley. In fact, crop production can be expanded in Somalia by increasing cultivated land and/or using agricultural inputs. The total absence of these in Somalia leaves the farmers with the only choice to open new land for crop production. As seen in the table below, in the best case scenario a total of 214,000 MT of maize and sorghum are expected from southern Somalia. This is 17 %higher than the postwar average cereal production (1993-1998). At regional level, cereal production forecast for this gu season is expected to be well above postwar average in Hiran (119%), Bakol (50%), Lower Shabelle (44%) and Bay (24%) regions but just above average in Gedo region (5%). If these crop forecasts hold up to the end of the cropping season (August 2000), this gu season will be the second best (after 1994) in the postwar period (1993-1998). It is worth noting however, that the relatively high production forecast (compared to the postwar average) for this Gu season is, in absolute terms, small and well below the historical average (1982-1988). On the average, the 2000 Gu production forecast is 38 percent lower than the historical average (1982-1988). At regional level, production forecast is down by 28 to 67 % with the exception of Bakol and Hiran regions - up by 10 and 7%, respectively. Even if the best case forecast will materialize at harvest time, the domestic cereal production will not satisfy the demand - historically, Somalia is a cereal deficit country.
Limited Planting in the North West
Rainfall was late and unevenly distributed across the Northwest regions of Somalia. However, some agro-pastoral areas of Togdheer and Galbeed regions received normal rainfall, concentrated from mid April to mid May. Overall, initial total land planted this gu season was 8,835 Ha, but due to moisture stress, the crop established area is about 2,185 Ha. The planted area is expected to be increased by new planting during the Karan season - a pattern similar to the last three seasons, provided that good and timely rainfall occurs. So far, moisture stress resulted in the loss of most of the early-planted maize. More specifically, below- normal gu crop production is expected in parts of Awdal (Baki), parts of Galbeed and parts of Togdheer (Sheikh, Beer and Hahi), which planted mainly maize. With additional rains, late maize and sorghum have better prospects.
The modest cultivated acreage is attributed to reduced international assistance for tilling, lower availability of animal traction and farmers’ previous experiences with climatic changes.
Quelea Quelea Threat in Burhakaba
There is fear of Quelea Quelea birds outbreak in the sorghum belt. The replenishment of water catchments is very conducive for the birds to thrive. Already swarms of these birds were observed in B/Hakaba.
FSAU Workshop Rearranged
Due to logistical difficulties, the 2000 Gu Crop Establishment Workshop, planned for June 21-29 in Baidoa did not take place. Instead, crop establishment field reports were gathered, discussed and summarised by FSAU/FEWS senior agronomists in Nairobi. The workshop could not be re-scheduled, as it was getting too late. FSAU/FAO and FEWS, as well as Somali senior agronomists from other agencies will meet in Mogadishu in mid-July to discuss and reach a consensus on Somalia crop statistics for the pre-war (1982-88) and post-war (1993-2000) periods.
2000 Gu Area and Production Forecast - Compared with Previous Seasons/Averages
GU 2000 SEED DISTRIBUTION - SHORTFALL IN VULNERABLE AREAS
Under the coordination of FAO, the Seed Working Group of the SACB Food Security Sectoral Committee has appealed for seeds, particularly sorghum seeds for southern Somalia, at the beginning of the Gu 2000. After intensive inter-agency discussions, the international donor and NGO communities have responded by providing about 830 MT of the FSAU estimated seed requirements of almost 1,500 MT in the most vulnerable area. The FAO, together with seed donor/distributing agencies, has drawn the plan for seed distribution in March 2000, coordinated the actual seed distribution and then compiled the data in June 2000, as presented in the table below. The table also shows the seed-distributing agencies and the amount of other seeds distributed in these regions. The shortfall in sorghum seed supply in Bakol region is mainly attributed to the absence of NGOs and UN agencies on the ground. In contrast, the extra sorghum seed supply in Hiran region is attributed to the presence of many NGOs such as ADRA and SCF (UK) who bought and distributed readily available and viable sorghum seeds. The 2000 Gu campaign of seed distribution is considered to have achieved its objectives.
Gu Season likely to Improve Food Security in most of Somalia, but Food Insecurity Persists in Pockets
FSAU crop establishment statistics indicate that there is a fairly good prospect for aggregate cereal production across southern Somalia in this Gu season. Although the forecast shows that most regions will harvest substantially lower than the pre-war average, predictions for Gu this year are that it will be one of the best in the post war years (see report on page 3). However, there are reports of moisture stress in rainfed crops, bird attacks, and conflicts in some of the prime agricultural areas, which may dampen the prospects. Livestock production is generally normal, except for pockets of pasture shortage, low camel reproduction and animal disease problems (see below). The regions most likely to experience livestock problems and below normal crops are Lower Juba, and parts of Gedo, Bakool and northwestern regions.
Earlier, it was feared that the lateness of the Gu rains would push the pastoral and agropastoral populations further into destitution. The forecast is now better and, in general, the food situation in Somalia is promising. Except for pockets of below normal expectations, most regions may require only little food aid after the harvest and this may give food aid agencies the opportunity to implement proper FFW programmes. Nevertheless, until the harvest in late July, these populations will still need assistance. Besides, the regions of Gedo, Lower Juba and Bakool, will need close monitoring even after July.
Unseasonal Livestock Movements Observed
Animals from other parts of Gedo region and Kenya moved to Elwak last Jilal in search of better pasture and water overgrazed Jilal's forage. The newly established pasture is also exhausted, because of little Gu rains. Due to water and pasture problems, both local and immigrated livestock are already moving back towards Bardera and riverine areas. This movement, which is the second in less than six months, is abnormal as it is happening too early in the post Gu period. Considering that the deyr season is still three months away this is worrysome and close monitoring is required.
In Lower Juba region, particularly in the pastoral areas, water shortage has been reported in Afmadow, Jilib and Jamame. Elsewhere in Hagar and Afmadow shortage of fodder for cattle already prompted livestock to move to riverine and dheshek areas, that are infested with Tsetse fly. In some districts like Afmadow, free movements of the livestock for pasture and water was jeopardized by inter-clan tensions. As a consequence, both the animal condition and the situation of food security of the pastoralists will deteriorate. Precautions to tackle further escalation of inter-clan tensions are recommended.
In Sool, there is sufficient pasture for livestock in areas of the region with good browsing and grazing potential. Nonetheless, these areas have experienced less in-migration and are relatively under under-utilized. The situation in Ainabo, also a high potential grazing plain, is different due to disrupted grazing pattern and access to rangeland caused by the proliferation of enclosures and private grazing sites. So far livestock and migration in all other parts of Somalia are normal, except for camel conditions.
Worrying Signs in Camel Reproduction - Alarm in Lower Juba
Camel calving rate in Gedo, Lower Juba, Bakool, central regions and areas of the northwestern regions were reported at 40-50% below the normal rates. Reports from Afmadow mentioned the outbreak of different diseases affecting camels, which are showing mixed symptoms, new to the pastoralists. They are calling these symptoms "Baranwaa",literally meaning " unknown". These combined diseases resulted in deaths of many camels and reduced their calving and conception rates. From El-Nino times, previously unknown diseases have been appearing in many parts of the country. This "Baranwaa" coupled with 'Roor' (astriasis), another disease new to pastoralists, were also observed in central regions and Gedo. These diseases affecting on estimates 20-30% of the camels, with 10% mortality, reduce camel herds, their reproduction and production rates as well as cause an obvious risk to pastoralists' food security.