As the harvest of Kremti season crops is not finished, no final data is yet available. The Ministry of Agriculture will present a progress report at the end of November.
A joint FAO/WFP mission visited the agriculture areas during October and November and its report will also be available before the end of November.
This year, the onset of the first good showers in the highlands and southern part of western lowlands during the third dekad of June, signaled the timely start of the main kremti season in Eritrea.
This was followed by two dry dekads in July. All short cycle crops planted in June and July were water-stressed due to lack of moisture at their germination and emergence stages.
The overall rainfall situation in August was good, except in some sub zobas of Anseba, Maekel and Debub that received only 1-15 mm. of rainfall during the third dekad.
The Drought Monitoring Center in Nairobi issued the climate outlook for September -December and normal to below normal is expected in the summer rain receiving areas of Eritrea.
Crop development was normal in August except that towards the end of the month hail storms damaged around 2,000 Has. of food crops in zoba Maekel and Debub.
The short rain season (Azmera), necessary for the long cycle cereals was not as good as necessary (below normal rains), so such crops are affected. The outlook for the incoming Kremti season (June-September) points to enhanced probabilities of near to below normal. This would also impact on the short cycle crops.
The response to the appeal for seeds shows a shortfall of about 6,200 MT. The foregone opportunity with Maize gap (460 MT of seeds) could have represented at least 27,600 MT using a 1,500 Kg./Ha.
Rains have been below normal for the Asmera season and farmers are preparing for the next (Kremti) season. The next three months will be decisive for the vegetative development of the crops. Some regions are in problems due to extreme dry conditions of soil, making difficult land preparation. Other farmers sold their draft animals to cope with the drought.
March is the first month of the Azmera rains. Isolated rains fell over the Southern and Central highs and Eastern escarpments, falling in the normal to below normal category.
- 2002 complete failure of seasonal rains
- July 2002-the Government issued an Alert
on the situation.
- August 2002-Government and Eritrean
Refugee and Rehabilitation Commission (ERREC) issued an Appeal for urgent
- 600,000 metric tons of annual consumption
- 54,000 metric tons harvested (546,000
metric tons shortage).
Food insecurity in Eritrea is becoming more and more severe. About 70 percent of the 3.9 million population is currently affected.
On top of the well known complications with refugees and the post Ethiopia-Eritrea border conflict tensions, affecting the whole economy and putting under strong stress the access to food, the drought is taking toll on the food availability.
There is almost total failure of crops in the winter rain-receiving areas of northern Red Sea (Bahri Season).
ERREC reported that response to the 2003 appeal is low and slow. By early February 2003, of the requested 476,797 MT of food (Cereals, pulses, oil, salt and CBS) only 110,609 MT have been committed leaving a gap of 366,188 MT.
Minimum buffer food stocks that should be available at all times for response are estimated at 100,000 MT. while current in-country stocks account for 26,000 Tons.