FAO GIEWS Country Brief on Ethiopia (25-April-2016)

Reference Date: 25-April-2016


  1. Planting of 2016 secondary “belg” season cereal crops is still underway

  2. March‑May “belg” rains were erratic in March, delaying planting activities

  3. “Belg” rains improved in April, but pockets of moisture deficits remain in southern SNNPR and Oromia regions as well as eastern Amhara Region

  4. Cereal prices remain firm despite ongoing commercialization of 2015 main “meher” season harvest

  5. Number of people in need of food assistance estimated at high 10.2 million

Planting of 2016 secondary “belg” crops still underway in most highland areas

Planting of 2016 “belg” season crops is still underway in main “belg”‑producing areas. After some good early rains at the end of February, the March‑May “belg” rains have been generally erratic in March, delaying planting activities in most cropping areas. Precipitations improved significantly in April, but pockets of moisture deficits still persist in some areas of southern SNNPR and Oromia regions as well as in some parts of eastern Amhara Region (in particular in North Wollo, South Wollo and North Shewa woredas). According to the latest forecast of the National Meteorological Agency, “belg” rains are expected to be favourable for the remainder of the season, improving yields and pasture conditions. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, about 2.2 million hectares of land are expected to be cultivated during the 2016 “belg” season

In central and southern woredas of Afar Region as well as in northern Somali Region, unfavourable “sugum” rains during the month of March had a significant negative impact on pasture conditions.

Wheat imports continue to increase

In response to the drought-induced food shortages, the Government has significantly increased commercial imports of wheat since the end of last year. After having imported about 1.3 million tonnes in 2015, wheat imports for the 2016 (January‑December) marketing year are forecast at a high 1.5 million tonnes. This figure compares with an average of less than 600 000 tonnes of wheat that were commercially imported before the current crisis induced by El Niño and are even well above the quantity of about 750 000 tonnes of wheat imported in 2011 during the latest drought in the Horn of Africa.

Cereal prices remained firm in recent months

Prices of maize remained firm since October 2015 both in the capital, Addis Ababa, and in Bahirdar market, located in a key‑growing area, despite the commercialization of the 2015 “meher” crops. By contrast, in Diredawa market, located in one of the drought‑affected “belg” dependent areas, maize prices increased by 16 percent between December 2015 and February 2016. Prices of maize in March 2016 in Addis Ababa and in Bahirdar markets were 4 and 8 percent, respectively, higher than in March 2015, while in Diredawa, despite the recent increases, they were still at the same levels of 12 months earlier, as the large carryover stocks from the above‑average 2014 cereal production partly offset the upward pressure on prices of the reduced 2015 output.

Prices of livestock products are generally at high levels. In March 2016, the year‑on‑year rate of inflation was 11 percent for meat and 19 percent for milk, cheese and eggs. Countrywide, the year‑on‑year food inflation rate in March was 7.3 percent, similar to the general inflation rate of 7.5 percent. At regional level, the highest rates of food inflation were recorded in the drought‑affected regions of Afar (12.7 percent) and Tigray (14.5 percent).

Alarming food insecurity levels in most northeastern regions

As a result of the impact of drought on last year’s “belg” and “meher” crop production as well as on grazing resources in northern areas of the country, food security conditions have sharply deteriorated since mid‑2015, with the estimated number of food insecure people increasing from 4.5 million in August to 8.2 million by end‑October and to 10.2 million in December. Most food insecure people are concentrated in eastern areas of Oromia, Amhara and Tigray regions as well as in Afar and northern Somali regions. At the beginning of April, a revision of the Priority Hotspot woreda classification has been issued by the Government, increasing the number of priority 1 woredas from 186 at the end of last year to a new total of 219.

Household seed reserves are severely depleted and alarming seed shortages are reported. According to the latest official estimates, about 1.7 million households do not have enough seeds to plant crops in the coming “meher” season. This is about four times the figure reported in the Humanitarian Requirements Document in December 2015.

Currently, Ethiopia is the largest refugee‑hosting country in Africa, with about 735 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan. Financial constraints have seriously limited the level of humanitarian assistance so far and the environmental degradation in camps, the fragile eco‑system and the scarcity of resources have led to tensions between host communities and refugees in some locations.

Leave a Reply