Summary Performance of the First Season of 2023 | March – July, 2023

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

Introduction

The 2023 first season production forecast for bimodal rainfall areas in the country, which have two rainy seasons, turned out as predicted, with below-average harvests. This was primarily due to irregular and erratic rainfall, including prolonged dry spells in April and May, severely impacting crop yields. Additionally, severe drought conditions affected up to 85 percent of cropland in various northern, eastern, and western districts, as indicated by the FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index. Furthermore, late June brought torrential rains causing flash floods and landslides in the eastern Elgon Region, resulting in fatalities, infrastructure damage, and localized crop and livestock losses.

Seasonal Performance

The production in the bimodal rainfall pattern areas

The 2023 first season production forecast for bimodal rainfall areas came to be as predicted; below-average. These areas, which encompass a significant portion of the country, are characterized by two distinct rainy seasons.

The first rainy season typically occurs from March to June and contributes to the first season harvest, which is expected to conclude in July. Unfortunately, the first rainy season of 2023 exhibited unfavorable conditions. Cumulative precipitation amounts were below- average in both the northern and southern cropping areas. Furthermore, the distribution of rainfall over time was irregular and erratic. While the month of March saw an onset of rainfall that was both timely and above-average, the subsequent months, namely April and May, experienced prolonged dry spells. These dry periods in April and May had a detrimental impact on crop yields.

Although there was an improvement in vegetation conditions due to above-average rainfall in June, the damage caused by the earlier dry spells proved irreversible. The FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index (ASI), a measure of agricultural stress caused by various factors including drought, indicated that severe drought conditions had affected a substantial portion of cropland. As of mid-June, up to 85 percent of cropland in numerous northern, eastern, and western districts were experiencing severe drought conditions, as indicated by the ASI map (see image below).

In late June, torrential rains caused flash floods and landslides in eastern Elgon Region, impacting over 20,000 people and resulting in fatalities, infrastructure damage, and localized crop and livestock losses.

Source: FAO, July 2023

Reduced 2023 harvest expected in Unimodal pattern area of Karamoja region

In the unimodal rainfall agro-pastoral Karamoja region, the harvesting of 2023 crops is scheduled to commence in August, with cereal production anticipated to be below-average. The cultivation process was hindered by heightened incidents of cattle raiding and criminal ambushes during April and May, limiting the use of animal traction and land access.

Despite the early onset of the rainy season in mid-March, spanning from April to September, unexpected heavy rains led to floods and waterlogging, disrupting planting. Subsequent rainfall displayed near-average cumulative levels, but with irregular timing, including prolonged dry periods in April and May. These dry spells adversely affected vegetation and crop yields, compounded by the challenges posed earlier in the planting season.

As per the most recent forecast from the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF), the weather outlook indicates below-average precipitation levels anticipated across much of the region until September. This forecast raises concerns about the condition of pastures and cereal yields, as the likely shortage of rainfall could have an adverse impact on these agricultural aspects.

Source: FAO, July 2023

To learn more about the seasonal market performance of the first season of 2023, average retail market price performances, the impact of seasonal performance on food security, and recommendations, please download this publication. (Seasonal Market Outlook 2023 – Issue No.2)

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