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A second harvest of near normal volume is expected in September and October

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Afghanistan
  • August 2013
A second harvest of near normal volume is expected in September and October

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Despite the typical, seasonal decline in irrigation water availability as the growing season approaches its end, adequate irrigation water remains available for second crops in many areas. As a result, near normal second crop performance is expected. The above normal volume of the wheat harvest together with expected near normal second harvest volume for most crops will improve stocks at both the household and market levels, particularly as this year is the second year of above average wheat harvests in a row. 

    • In the West-Central Highlands Agropastoral livelihood zone an expected well below average September wheat harvest and higher than usual livestock sales since the spring are likely to lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by October, in the absence of additional humanitarian assistance. 

    • In most reference markets, the July sheep to wheat terms of trade increased between nine and 22 percent over the last year. This increases the purchasing power of households who sell livestock, helping procure their needed food for winter during the stocking period in September and October. 

    Current Situation
    • In most parts of the country, the wheat harvest has been completed. However, at the higher elevations, the grain harvest has started, and it will continue through September. Field reports indicated that the total volume of the wheat harvest will be well above average with most areas having average to above average production. The most notable exception is the West Central Highlands Agropastoral livelihood zone where wheat crops have performed poorly so far, so the total harvest volume in that area is expected to be far below normal.
    • Irrigation water availability seasonally declined from May to August, but in many areas, it remains enough to continue to irrigate the standing second crops. The second crops are dominated by cotton, rice, and maize. Thus far, their performance has been mostly normal, both in terms of timing and of stage of development.
    • The watermelon and melon harvests started in May in southern Afghanistan and have already started in other regions. Thus far, they have had a higher volume than last year across the country, particularly in northeastern Afghanistan where harvest volume is roughly double that of last year. In northern Afghanistan, melon flies continue to damage some of the crop, but the level of infestation has been less than last year.
    • The tomato harvest starts as early as April in eastern Afghanistan. The volume of the tomato harvest in east-central Afghanistan was well above average and brought above-average income for producers. The current farm gate price for 7 kilograms (kg) of tomatoes is AFN 120 compared to AFN 20 last year, at least in part due to rising demand in Kabul.
    • As was assumed in July in the most likely scenario, eastern Afghanistan has had some localized flooding triggered by the Indian monsoon rains. These floods have damaged some houses and agricultural land. Assessments are underway to determine the extent of the impacts. However, early reports indicated that the level of damage may be less than last year.
    • Conflict is seasonally intensifying across much of the country. Due to extortion and robbery by unknown armed groups, pastoralists and agropastoralists with their livestock have left highland pastures (shewa) in Badakhshan one to two months earlier than normal. This is likely to negatively impact livestock body conditions and consequently, livestock prices.
    • July one-year old, female sheep prices are above their five-year averages across all reference markets. Similarly July terms of trade between a one-year old sheep and wheat in July was between 9 and 22 percent higher in most reference markets than last year.
    • July casual labor wages were well above their five-year averages in all reference markets. In Mazar, Kabul, and Kandahar, casual labor wages were 40, 35, and 31 percent higher than their five-year averages. When one compares July terms of trade between wheat and labor, it has declined between four and 22 percent over the last year, primarily because of increases in international wheat prices.
    • Current wheat grain prices are below their five-year averages in Jalalabad, Herat, Faizabad, and Maimana while very similar to their five-year averages in Kabul and Mazar, only two percent above in both markets. Nili and Kandahar prices are up to 14 percent higher than their five-year averages in these structurally, wheat-deficit areas of the country. Fluctuations in the Afghanistan afghani (AFN) to U.S. dollar (USD) exchange rate have contributed to wheat grain price variability as much wheat grain is traded on regional markets in U.S. dollar terms. Province-level variations in current year production have also played a role.

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for July to December 2013 remain unchanged. 

    Projected Outlook through December 2013
    • Food security outcomes from July to December are anticipated to be classified at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most parts of the country. Many households will have well above normal access to food through own above average production and income from well above average labor wages. The national wheat harvest is expected to be above average in terms of volume, which would increase availability at the market and household stocks. Livestock prices are higher than their five-year averages, which will enable many households to sell livestock in order to purchase stocks of food for winter.
    • The West-Central Highland Agropastoral livelihood zone is likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from now through September as poor households are meeting their immediate, minimally adequate food needs through ongoing external assistance and other sources of income. Income continues to be earned from labor migration, primarily to wheat-growing areas in nearby lowland and midland areas, and local, casual, day labor wages despite the reductions in some these usual sources of incomes compared to normal. Households are also making additional, early livestock sales in order to pay for their current food needs. However, households have been selling livestock at a higher than usual rate in order to cover food purchases since the early part of the spring. By October, they would shift to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the absence of additional humanitarian assistance, as both sources of food and of income will decline because of the expected far below normal wheat harvest in September, anticipated seasonally high market prices for staple foods, especially during the stocking period, and a seasonal deterioration of physical access to markets because of the start of snow by November.
    • The newly displaced tend to rely heavily on assistance and seasonal, construction labor during the summer. They will be meeting their basic needs through external aid and purchasing food, funded in part by daily, casual labor wages, but their dietary diversity is likely to remain low and far lower than before they were displaced. They are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from August to December.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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