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Ethiopia To Enjoy Above Average Yields

13 November 2013

ETHIOPIA - Production prospects are favourable as the main meher season crops are harvested and the market is in a promising position as cereals are at record highs, write agricultural commentators at the World Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Favourable prospects for the 2013 main “meher” season crop production

Harvesting of the 2013 main “meher” season cereal crops has just began and overall production is expected at above average levels. Main season “kiremt” rains (June to September) have been generally abundant and well-distributed and the supply of agricultural inputs has been sufficient and timely.

However, erratic and below average rains, coupled with floods and hailstorms, have reduced yields of “meher” crops in some marginal producing areas of Tigray, Amhara and Oromia regions, write FAO analysts.

In addition, the onset of rains has been late by three/four weeks in some north-western sorghum producing areas and most farmers had to plant short-cycle early-maturing varieties of sorghum which have lower yields.


The production of long-cycle crops, including sorghum, is expected to decline also in some bi-modal rainfall lowlands of north-eastern Tigray and Amhara regions. In these areas, the poor performance of the 2013 secondary “belg” season (March/July) often prevented the timely preparation of land for long-cycle crops, inducing farmers to plant short-cycle crops such as wheat, barley and teff.

Planting of sweet potatoes has just started in major growing areas of southern SNNPR. Two consecutive favourable rainy seasons have significantly improved the availability of sweet potato cuttings which has been always short during the last ten years. If rains are favourable along the season, a good production is expected to be harvested in March 2014.

Livestock body conditions and milk production are generally satisfactory throughout the country as favourable rains have improved pasture and water availability in most places. Residues of “meher” crops that have just been harvested are also improving forage supply.

In most areas of Afar and northern Somali region, the 2013 “karma/karan” rains (June to September) have been timely, abundant and well distributed, with positive effects on livestock body conditions as well as crop development in sedentary farming areas.

Most southern and south-eastern pastoral areas received above average 2013 “gu/genna” rains (March to May) allowing to maintain livestock conditions and productivity during the June to September dry season.

In these areas, the 2013 “deyr/hageya” rains (October to December) have started on-time and are forecast at average levels along the season, likely sustaining pasture and water availability until March 2014.

Cereal prices at record high levels in most markets

Wholesale prices of cereals continued to strengthen in October in most markets and are at or near record levels. The rising trend started last March/April partly following the reduced output from the secondary belg season harvest, concluded last August. In Addis Ababa wholesale market, all major cereals were traded in October at record prices, with increases of about 60 percent during the last six months for red sorghum and maize and about 30 percent for wheat and white sorghum.

Food security conditions began to improve as the “meher” season harvest progresses

The lean season in most “meher” producing areas is over with the beginning of the green harvest in October. Food security conditions are gradually improving as the “meher” harvest progresses and new crops become available for consumption. In western surplus-producing areas, harvest labour opportunities are increasing the purchasing power of poor households, improving their access to food. However, access to food is likely to quickly deteriorate in areas that received below average rains such as north-eastern Amhara, eastern and southern Tigray, the lowlands of East Hararghe zone in Oromia, north-eastern Afar and some pockets in southern Somali region.

According to the latest assessment by the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) released in September 2013, the number of people in need of relief food assistance until the end of the year is estimated at 2.7 million, about 12 percent more than the first half of the year. The majority of food insecure households are concentrated in Oromia, Somali, Ahmara and Tigray regions.

TheCropSite News Desk

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