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News article16 May 2022Joint Research Centre3 min read

Low winter cereal production expected in North Africa and Middle East; Drought worsens in East Africa

The April edition of the JRC's Anomaly Hotspots of Agricultural Production (ASAP) assessment is now available at:Anomaly Hotspots of Agricultural Production (ASAP) assessment

ASAP hotspot assessment April 2022
ASAP hotspot assessment April 2022

Main findings of the April global overview:

  • The main cereal season is ending in Southern Africa, with the harvest of summer crops having started in April. At regional level, below-average production is expected due to multiple stressors (delayed start of the season, tropical cyclones, long dry spells) throughout the 2021/2022 agricultural season that affected many parts, such as Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, southwestern Angola. On the contrary, an above-average output is forecast in South Africa, the largest maize producer in the region.
  • In East Africa, significant rainfall deficits persist in southern and central Somalia, eastern and northern Kenya, central and southern Ethiopia and parts of Uganda. In addition to the impacts of the exceptionally prolonged drought, additional pressure on food security in the region is caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as many food importers in the region, to a large extent, depend on the imports from Ukraine. Additionally, small-scale farmers who were already facing challenges in accessing farming inputs may see their access to fertiliser further reduced. A high number of people in the region (39.8-41.3 million) were forecast to be in ‘Crisis or worse’ (IPC Phase 3 or above) in 2022.
  • In North Africa, the winter cereal season is suffering from drought stress and, in most cases, rainfall in March came too late for crop recovery. In Morocco and western Algeria, reduced yields can be expected. Low winter wheat production in one or more countries in North Africa is of particular concern, with the expected food price inflation linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, in the Middle East, prospects for winter cereals are poor in the north of Syria and north and east of Iraq due to poor rainfall and poor socio-economic conditions since autumn 2021. In contrast, the biomass of winter crops is still close to average in Iran, and in Yemen, the sowing of sorghum has started under average weather conditions on the western coast and drier-than-average conditions in the Central Highlands.
  • In West Africa, the season’s first maize planting started in the bi-seasonal parts of the region under generally favourable agro-climatic conditions. Rainfall conditions have been average over the past month; however, slightly below-average vegetation conditions are observed in central and southern Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin. The Copernicus C3S Multimodel seasonal rainfall forecast shows a high probability of below-average May/June rainfall, except for western coastal parts of the region.
  • In Central Asia, the biomass of winter crops is close to average; however, drier-than-average conditions forecast for the next three months will likely hamper any early growth of rainfed crops. In Afghanistan, the biomass of winter cereals is close to or above average in most regions; however, socio-economic conditions remain very poor and around 20 million people are facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC). In South Asia, prospects are favourable for Rabi crops (winter cereals) and Boro rice in Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively. In Sri Lanka, the sowing of second (Yala) rice and maize crops has started under favourable weather conditions; however, fertiliser and fuel shortages are likely to decrease production.
  • In South-East Asia, prospects are good for dry season rice and, in some areas (central and northern Thailand, south Vietnam), the planting of wet season rice has started under favourable conditions. In Indonesia, prospects are favourable for wet season rice and the planting of dry season rice is about to start.
  • In Central America, land preparation and early sowing of the Primera season crops maize, beans, and rice is underway with favourable conditions, except in parts of central and western Guatemala. In the Caribbean, conditions for planting on the islands are mostly favourable. However, the increasing international prices of food, fertiliser and fuel could lead to reduced areas planted, lower yields and an increase in production costs.

The next assessment is scheduled for the end of May 2022.


Publication date
16 May 2022
Joint Research Centre