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An average to above-average wheat harvest is ongoing in the highlands

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Afghanistan
  • August 2014
An average to above-average wheat harvest is ongoing in the highlands

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Across almost all areas the wheat harvest has been average to above-average. The ongoing harvest in the highlands is starting similarly with higher yields than last year reported in some areas. With own produced crops or labor income from the harvest, most areas remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    • With political uncertainty continuing to limit economic growth and investment, labor wages and the availability of casual labor opportunities remain less than in recent years across most of the country.

    • All the houses destroyed by floods and landslides this year may not be reconstructed before winter. In the absence of additional humanitarian assistance from October to December, some affected households will likely enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as seasonal income-earning opportunities decline from October through December.

    Current Situation
    • The wheat harvest concluded in the lowlands in July. It is ongoing in some highland areas until mid-September 2014. The harvest appears similar to last year in irrigated areas with higher yields being reported in rainfed areas due to regular spring rainfall. Planting of the second crops, primarily rice and maize, has continued with a normal schedule and planted area in eastern and northern irrigated areas. Vegetable production in eastern and western provinces is better than recent years, but prices have not fallen significantly, so vegetable producers are earning more income. However, lack of storage is proving a constraint for some perishable vegetables which are rotting before reaching markets. Melon and watermelon production has increased in northern provinces. For example, 4,700 hectares (ha) of land were planted with melons and watermelon in Samangan, a 59 percent increase in planted area. Last year Samangan produced 25,000 metric tons (MT) of melon, but this year early estimates are for 322,000 MT.
    • Harvested wheat is entering markets, causing wheat prices to decline from June to July (Figure 1). However, in July, wheat grain and wheat flour prices in the eight markets monitored by the World Food Program (WFP) were between one and 31 percent higher than 2013. In general, the cost of imported food items is increasing as trade has not been as robust as in recent years. Similarly, casual labor work opportunities decreased and wages are up to 50 percent less than last year.
    • Following military operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) of the Federally Administrated Tribal Area (FATA) in Pakistan in June, nearly 120,000 people have crossed into Afghanistan, mostly going to Khost and Paktika Provinces. According to United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) until now over 9,000 households were assisted with non-food items (NFIs). 5,500 households received packages of food, and tents were provided to nearly 4,000 households. Humanitarian access is still a challenge due to civil insecurity in Paktika Province where only seven percent of the displaced have been assisted. In Khost Province, 64 percent have already received some form of assistance.
    • Ongoing clashes between government forces and insurgents have displaced a significant number of people from Musa Qala, Nawzad, and Sangin Districts in northern Helmand Province. The majority of displaced are staying with the host community or renting accommodations in Lashkargah and Nahari Sarraj Districts, but a small number have been provided with emergency shelters. 1,500 households have been assessed and assisted. Humanitarian access continues to be a major obstacle to humanitarian assistance delivery in Helmand Province.

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for July to December 2014 remain unchanged.

    Projected Outlook Through December 2014
    • In higher elevation areas such as Badakhshan, Bamyan, Daykundi, Behsud District in Wardak, and Kohistanat District in Sari Pul, wheat has not yet been harvested, but crop development has been normal so far. The harvest prospects are similar to or somewhat better than last year. In the West Central Highland Agropastoral livelihoods zone including Ghor Province where the wheat harvest was very small last year, the wheat harvest started in the lowlands and will continue until mid-September. Both irrigated and rainfed wheat are reaching maturity in this area.
    • Across the country, second crops such as rice, maize, and some vegetables are performing normally. With these likely average to above-average harvests, households will receive additional food and income from September to November.
    • No additional major influx of people from North Waziristan Agency (NWA) into Afghanistan is expected over the coming months. Displaced households in Paktika and Khost Provinces will eventually receive food and non-food assistance from the local communities and humanitarian organizations. Displaced households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) and likely to remain so but only due to expected humanitarian assistance and assistance from the host community between now and December.
    • Newly displaced households who receive food assistance will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only due to external assistance through at least December. However, those who will not be able to receive assistance due to civil insecurity are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least December.
    • Not all homes destroyed by floods and landslides this year, primarily in northern areas, will be reconstructed before winter starts. Some flood- and landslide-affected households will need to remain in temporary shelters in camps, in homes in the host community, in the homes of relatives, or in rented housing. Households who lost their primary crop and remain in temporary shelters will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from October to December, as they exhaust income and food from their own coping strategies, unless additional assistance is provided. If additional assistance were to be provided, these households would likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) due to the assistance.
    • Households lost almond production due to frost in Central Samangan, Khulm District in Balkh, and Char Darah District in Kunduz Province. Households were forced to reduce food and non-food expenditures and seek other labor opportunities due to the loss of income. They will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from now until at least December.
    • The vast majority of households will likely meet their food and essential non-food needs following the above-average wheat harvest, the normal harvest of the second crops, and income from cash crops and labor. Most areas will remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from now through December. However, households who heavily rely on casual labor income will likely have income constrained compared to recent years. This is largely due to less investment and spending, especially in the construction industry. There is also less trade. Trade is a sector that employs a large number of casual laborers in markets and in transporting goods.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Wheat and wheat flour prices in Kabul, September 2012 to July 2014, Afghanistan afghani (AFN) per kilogram (kg)

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Wheat and wheat flour prices in Kabul, September 2012 to July 2014, Afghanistan afghani (AFN) per kilogram (kg)

    Source: World Food Program (WFP)

    Figure 3


    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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