Seasonal Market Outlook: Summary Performance of the Second Season of 2023 | September 2023 – February, 2024

Seasonal Market Outlook

Summary Performance of the Second Season of 2023 with Average Retail Market Price Performances of Selected Commodities


Agriculture is a vital sector in Uganda, serving as the primary sector of the economy and the main employer. The agriculture market in Uganda is estimated to be USD 4.07 billion in 2024, projected to reach USD 5 billion by 2029, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.20% during the forecast period. The sector is anticipated to play a crucial role in poverty reduction and economic growth efforts. Despite a fast-growing population, limited agricultural productivity due to challenges such as inadequate quality seeds, irrigation, and formal-informal seed sector linkages hampers sectoral development. Uganda possesses abundant arable land, with the potential to feed a significant population, yet only a fraction is cultivated. Agriculture currently contributes around 23% of GDP and 33% of export earnings, employing approximately 70% of the country’s workforce.

A variety of crops contribute to the country’s food security and agricultural economy. Cooking banana (matoke), dry cassava chips, sorghum, millet, beans, and white maize are among the most important food commodities for Ugandans. The staple food varies by region, with matoke being significant in the central, western, and southwestern regions, while millet is predominant in the east, and sorghum in the east, north, and northeast. Cassava chips, beans, and white maize also play crucial roles, particularly in regions such as eastern, northern, and northwestern Uganda.

Matoke holds particular importance in areas like Mbarara and Kampala, while sorghum and millet are vital in Lira and Soroti, which also serve as supply sources for Karamoja. Beans are widely consumed across the country, with notable production and consumption in Kampala and Lira. Additionally, the western belt, stretching from Masindi southwards through Hoima, Kagadi, Kibale, Mubende down to the southwestern district serves as a significant production and commercial area for white maize.

Seasonal Performance

The production in the Bimodal rainfall pattern areas

In bimodal areas, above-average rainfall from September to December bolstered staple food production, elevating food security for impoverished households in northern and eastern regions from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels. Despite this, national bean production remained average, while the ongoing second season harvest of maize and millet is anticipated to maintain food stocks until April. Staple food prices experienced a decline between October and December, majorly due to below-average regional demand, attributing to an annual food inflation drop from 2.1 percent in November to 0.1 percent in December.

However, retail prices began rising by the end of January 2024, expected to persist due to post-harvest losses stemming from increased rainfall in December and January, affecting produce quality. These escalating food prices are projected to continue rising in bimodal areas as farmers seek quality seeds for the upcoming first season of 2024. Notably, certain commodities like tomatoes, onions, and matooke maintained their prices, possibly due to unique market dynamics such as supply chain disruptions or demand variations.

The production in the Unimodal rainfall pattern areas

In unimodal Karamoja, the April to October rainy season exhibited spatial and temporal irregularities, although cumulative rainfall totals were generally above average. However, off-season rainfall in November and December was below average, adversely affecting pasture and water resources. Consequently, the main sorghum harvest fell below average, with fewer households retaining dry harvest stocks by December’s end, and some impoverished households having already depleted their supply.

Consequently, poor households in these areas are confronting an early onset of the lean season due to the premature exhaustion of the below-average 2023 harvests. Nevertheless, the neighboring second season bimodal harvest has augmented staple food supply in Karamoja markets, contributing to stabilization – and even reduction – of staple food prices to below-average levels.

Financial access to food remains constrained due to limited income from typical livelihood activities, exacerbated by the depletion of assets during the 2020-2023 drought period. While acute food insecurity levels are anticipated to be lower than the previous year, households are expected to encounter seasonal increases in food consumption gaps throughout the remainder of the lean season, resulting in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes likely persisting through May 2024.

To learn more about the seasonal market performance of the second season of 2023, average retail market price performances, the impact of seasonal performance on food security, and recommendations, download this publication (Seasonal Market Outlook 2024 – Issue No.3).

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