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IGAD ICPAC Bulletin No. 4: Season Update – Eastern Africa Crop Monitor (April 2019)

The current crop season in the central and southern part of the region normally starts with onset of March to May rainfall season. However, majority of cropping regions have experienced extended dry conditions with delayed rainfall. This has disrupted planting activities in the countries where rainfall has commenced and delayed planting in those countries yet to receive rainfall. The Tropical Cyclone Idai experienced in early march in Mozambique area redirected precipitation away from the Eastern Africa region resulting persisting dry conditions.

Crops and Season Overview

In Kenya, in high potential cropping areas of the southwestern maize basket, substantial rainfall deficits at the start of the long rains season, with cumulative precipitations in February and March below-average, seriously disrupted and delayed planting operations. As the long-rains season normally extends until August in these areas, with rainfall forecasts pointing to below-average rains in April followed by improved precipitations for the remainder of the rains season, a near-average harvest, albeit delayed, is still possible. Bi-modal south eastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, the early season dryness was more severe, with no significant precipitations received so far. In these areas, by contrast, with seasonal rains normally subsiding in early June, under the forecast of below-average rains in April, a reduced crop output is highly likely. Poor harvests will potentially result in a second consecutive reduced output, after the 2018/19 short-rains harvest, gathered last February, estimated at more than 60 percent below-average. Similarly, in Uganda, southern bimodal areas of South Sudan and some north eastern bimodal areas of Tanzania, delayed rains and dry conditions in March seriously affected planting and establishment of first season crops, and if poor rains in April will materialize, substantial cereal crop production shortfalls are expected. In South Sudan, despite some localized security improvements since mid-2018, the prolonged conflict continues to constrain access to fields, and the economic crisis is resulting in soaring prices of inputs. In unimodal central and southern areas of the United Republic of Tanzania, where msimu crops will be harvested in May, rains in March were up to 60 percent below average, but the rainfall deficits did not have a major impact on vegetation conditions, as rainfall in previous months has been adequate. By contrast, in central Tabora and Singida provinces, where rains in February were also below-average, crops are currently affected by moisture stress.

Source: Intergovernmental Authority on Development