Uganda: Food Inflation Low Despite Failed Harvest

In spite of a failed harvest from the 2019 first crop season Uganda has maintained a relatively low food inflation rate at 1.9 per cent wing to a spill-over of stock from the 2018 bumper harvest.

The country experienced a bumper harvest of maize, beans, sorghum rice; cassava, sweet potatoes, and Irish potatoes that has kept the prices of all staple foods low since June 2018, meaning households were able to meet their food needs.

Opolot Okaasai, a crop resources expert and former director crop resources at the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries said: "2018 was good since the first rains came on time across the country and floods hit after the crops had been harvested."

This year however started on a difficult note. Although the first quarter is normally dry, it was affected by the two tropical cyclones that hit Mozambique and disrupted the country's rain pattern.

The March-June rain season was characterised by drought conditions in March and April, as the cyclones redirected precipitations away from East Africa.

The latest Food and Agricultural Organisation brief on Uganda says, "Total cereal production for 2019 is tentatively set at about 3.4 million tonnes, nearly 10 per cent down from 2018 and 5 per cent below the average of the previous five years," however food inflation is expected to decline in December when fresh harvests will be reaching the markets.

"We care likely to have a poor harvest in the second crop season and so we expect prices of food crops to go up," Mr Okaasai explained.

The minister for Agriculture Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said maize prices have been increasing since September and are expected to remain high for the next few months as heavy rains in several maize growing areas disrupt the next harvest.

A kilogramme of maize is retailing at between Ush1,200 ($0.32) and Ush1,300 ($0.35), up from between Ush800 and Ush850 ($0.2) in June and July.

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