As dry conditions prevail, severe crop stress continues across the bulk of the country
Erratic rainfall and dry conditions persist across most of the country, and parts of every province have received below-average and poorly distributed rainfall. The abnormal dryness has resulted in severe moisture stress for most crops. In parts of the southern and northern regions some farmers are close to completely writing off the season. There has been little ground water recharge and surface water collection in most areas, resulting in poor water availability and access. The poor rainfall performance is also expected to affect the availability of seasonal green crops for consumption, as well as on-farm casual labor opportunities, rates, and other livelihood sources. The high likelihood of below-average rains for the remainder of the season is likely to significantly reduce crop yields and harvests across most parts of the country.
Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes are expected to continue in most northern and high crop-producing areas through March. However, expected below average harvests in April/May will result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes for some households. In contrast, typical cereal-deficit areas in the southern, western, and extreme northern regions are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to depleted own-produced food stocks, constrained livelihoods, and reduced household incomes. Ongoing humanitarian assistance in some of these areas will likely improve outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through March. However, during the April/May harvest period, and in the absence of humanitarian assistance, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected for some households because of the anticipated poor harvests.
In December the average price for maize grain ($0.31/kg) across FEWS NET sentinel markets remained relatively stable. In comparison to last year’s price, maize grain was 27 percent lower, and 21 percent below the five-year average. However, as abnormally Dry Conditions Continue, local farmers and traders are more likely to withhold grain, forcing traders to source maize from relatively distant supply areas. Increases in grain prices were already recorded during the first half of January. Still, factors like the influence of the national liquidity challenges and poor demand due to constrained livelihoods for poor households will contribute to below-average grain prices during the peak lean season (February-March).
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