Currently, the total number of acutely food insecure people stands at 3.7 million, of which nearly 68 per cent live in two regions (Somali and Oromia). As the main Meher harvests begin to enter markets from October onwards, the number of food insecure is expected to decline by about one million through December 2012.
The overall performance of the June to September Kiremt (main) rains has been favourable and the early outlook for Meher production is positive. Nonetheless, the 2012 annual production of long-cycle crops (maize, sorghum, millet) is expected to be below average in several areas. The late arrival and irregular performance of the March-May Belg (agricultural) and Gu/Sugum (pastoral) rains has stressed livelihoods in affected areas. Increasing food prices are also undermining food access for the poorest households. Compared to July 2011, the wholesale price increases observed have ranged from 5 to 45 per cent for maize, up to 20 per cent for wheat and nearly 50 per cent for sorghum. The food prices are above the long term average by 42 per cent for maize, 39 per cent for wheat and 60 per cent for sorghum.
Over the next three months, a decline in retail commodity prices is expected with the Meher harvest. The El Nino event is expected to be conducive to higher precipitations in the last quarter of 2012 in Meher cropping areas and in pastoral areas, possibly bringing significant improvements in pasture and water availability. However the El Nino event could also cause crop damages (lower yields and quality of grains) in some Meher growing areas.