Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT

The March edition of The Early Warning Crop Monitor was recently released, bringing together the monitoring efforts of international, regional, and national organizations on crop conditions within countries at risk of food insecurity. The subregions covered in the monitor are: East Africa and Yemen, West Africa, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Central America and the Caribbean.

In East Africa, critical food security situations are ongoing in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, and to a lesser extent in Tanzania and Uganda, due to drought conditions. Food mobilization efforts are underway in these countries, but millions of people remain in need of food aid, especially in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. The monitor highlights that in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya, 8.3 million people will require food assistance and livelihood support in 2017. Additionally, crop projections for the main harvesting season, for which land preparations are now underway, are generally poor due to persistent dry conditions. The notable exceptions in this region are in Sudan and Northern Ethiopia, where crop conditions are considered favorable.

By contrast, crop conditions are favorable across West Africa (expect for Northeastern Nigeria, due to ongoing conflict and insecurity), with Liberia and Guinea experiencing exceptional crop conditions due to sufficient rainfall. Similarly, the monitor also documents favorable crop conditions across Northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt); Morocco and Algeria received very abundant rainfall in February, and temperature have not damaged crop development in Libya and Egypt.

Good rainfall conditions were documented across Southern and Central Africa, pointing to generally favorable crop conditions across the region. However, there are a number of concerns due to flooding and excessive rains in Southern Zimbabwe and Southern Mozambique and poor rains in Southwestern and Northwestern Angola. The monitor also released an alert regarding the spreading armyworm infestation being seen in Southern Africa; the pest could lower harvests significantly. High armyworm infestations have been confirmed in Zimbabwe and Zambia, where it is estimated that over 200,000 hectares have been damaged in Zimbabwe and twenty percent of the maize crop has been damaged in Zambia.

In the northern regions of Southeast Asia, dry season rice is currently in the growing stage and conditions are generally favorable due to adequate irrigation water supplies. However, there are a few concerns due to heavy rains in Southern Vietnam and the Philippines. In Indonesia, where harvesting is currently ongoing, crop conditions are favorable across the country. By contrast, in Sri Lanka, where harvests are currently nearing completion, a significant decrease in production is expected due to dry weather during the growing season. Additionally, there are serious concerns regarding the irrigated secondary yala crop, planting for which starts in April, due to low water levels in Sri Lanka’s main reservoirs.

Crop conditions are good across Central Asia due to above average precipitation in recent months, with particularly favorable conditions recorded in Afghanistan. By contrast, rainfall deficits have been observed across Central America since January; despite this, crop development in the region is expected to be normal due to adequate soil moisture retained from rains received in the preceding season. There are concerns that the dry weather in Central America could result in pest and disease outbreaks later in the season, thereby reducing yields.

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