Remote Monitoring Report

Reduced remittances and high wheat flour prices lead to Stressed outcomes

June 2015
2015-Q2-1-1-TJ-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  •  The average price for wheat flour across major markets is up by 25 percent compared to May 2014. Wheat flour prices in these markets range from 38 to 45 percent above the five-year average.

  • Remittances from Tajikistani labor migrants abroad, particularly in the Russian Federation, have been declining since mid-2014. Households that typically rely almost exclusively on these remittances for food access are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 

  • Upcoming harvests between June and August are expected to be near average. Most households are expected to return to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity as the harvests provide labor opportunities and lead to a seasonal decrease in staple prices.

ZONE

CURRENT ANOMALIES

PROJECTED ANOMALIES

National

  • Average wheat flour prices are 41 percent above the five-year average.
  • The value of remittances from Tajikistani migrant workers in the Russian Federation will remain well below levels prior to mid-2014.

Projected outlook through September 2015

The 2014/15 wet season is ending in Tajikistan. Most oblasts received increased precipitation as compared to last wet season and near to the 2002 – 2011 average, especially in western areas where precipitation totals were almost twice as much as the previous season. The areas of exception include Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) and the Rush Valley, areas where agricultural activities are less extensive. In GBAO, precipitation totals were similar to last wet season and significantly below-average, while the Rush Valley also received below-average precipitation.

From late March to late June, significant amounts of precipitation, between 50 mm to 150 mm, fell across the country. This led to near-average snow cover extent and snow volume, and elevated water levels in river basins. Although this precipitation supported the normal progression of spring agricultural activities, it also had some negative impacts. Flooding and mudflows occurred in some areas of the country during May and June, displacing some households. For example, consistent rains in May caused flooding and mudslides in a number of districts in Khatlon Oblast and in some areas in Rush Valley. Similar incidents were also reported in some areas of Sughd Oblast in June. Most of the affected households were relocated and assisted with food and non-food items with funding from the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan (RCST) and IFRC, in partnership with the government, local authorities, and UN agencies.

An increase in the cultivation of spring crops was observed, attributable to timely spring precipitation. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, spring cereal crops were sown on nearly 116,200 hectares (ha) of land as of June 1st, 18 percent more than at the same time last year and exceeding the official targeted area. Due to a spike in potato prices in 2014, farmers also brought more area under potato cultivation. A total of 19,500 ha have been planted with potatoes, also 18 percent more than at the same time last year.

Due to increased area planted and improved agroclimatic conditions, production levels will be in a good position to be near average. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) also shows a slight improvement of five to ten percent as compared to normal conditions, with the exception of some areas in lower Khatlon Oblast and Rush Valley (Figure 2). Although crop diseases and pest infestations were more prevalent than last year, timely government interventions have limited damages to crops. For instance, nearly 88,000 ha were affected by locust infestation this year, a 46 percent rise from the previous season. Of this area, 74,000 ha have already been treated.

Wheat grain export prices in Kazakhstan, the main supply market for Tajikistan, were stable between April and May of 2015 and similar to respective 2014 levels. However, prices were ten percent above the five-year average. Wheat flour prices in Tajikistan are likely to continue at the current higher level until harvested wheat enters into local markets.

Wheat flour prices remained stable at high prices in all major markets between April and May 2015. The average price across major markets is up by 25 percent compared to May 2014, while the increase ranges from 38 to 45 percent in major markets as compared to the five-year average. Contributing factors to above-average wheat flour prices include high-priced imported wheat from Kazakhstan, and the depreciation of the Tajikistani somoni (TJS) against other currencies. Since June 2014, the somoni (TJS) has depreciated 21 percent against the U.S. dollar (USD) and Kazakhstan Tenge (KZT). The somoni (TJS) has stabilized in the past month at the official exchange rate, due in part to strict limitations on private currency exchange by the government of Tajikistan.

Prices for potatoes, another staple food, dropped significantly in the month of May 2015. The average price has dropped more than 50 percent from last year, and is 14 percent lower than the five-year average. This is attributable to the entry of potatoes from regional markets, primarily from Pakistan (Figure 3).

Reduced labor opportunities for Tajikistani migrants abroad, particularly in the Russian Federation, caused a significant decrease in remittances sent to households in Tajikistan. For example, according to data from the GBAO Department for Economic Development and Trade, labor migrants remitted approximately USD 8.150 million to banks in GBAO during January to April of 2015, 43 percent less than the amount received during the same period last year. Although the reduction in the value of remittances is of national importance, it is of special concern for households who rely solely on remittances as a source of food and income, which is the case for many households in GBAO. These households are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Poor households relying on market purchase for wheat are expected to return to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) after the conclusion of the wheat harvest in their respective areas, as they benefit from the seasonal reduction in wheat prices and labor opportunities associated with the harvest.

About Remote Monitoring

In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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