Food Security Outlook Update

Conflict is leading to food insecurity in affected rural areas

August 2015

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 Agricultural Prospects Report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) estimates total 2015 domestic wheat production to be 4,673,000 MT, leaving an import requirement of 895,000 MT to cover domestic needs. This compares to typical annual imports of approximately 1,500,000 MT of wheat and wheat flour.

  • Most of the second season crops are progressing favorably throughout the country, including maize and rice. Cotton, however, another second season crop and an important cash crop, has been affected by pests in northern Afghanistan. In southern Afghanistan, particularly in Helmand Province, farmers are replacing cotton with other cash crops due to low cotton prices during recent years.

  • The Afghanistan Afghani (AFN) has dropped in value by 10 percent against the United States dollar (USD) since late June, causing upward pressure on prices for food and non-food items, including wheat flour. The greatest price increases have been noted in areas that are relying on imported wheat flour and other food items and in the areas that have been affected by conflict and worsening insecurity, including some districts of Helmand and Kunduz Provinces.

  • Access to food in the Wakhan Corridor and in extreme northern Badakhshan Province is expected to improve in September as the local harvests begin. Wheat production in Badakhshan Province is expected to be near to last year’s surplus production of 14,708 MT of wheat.

Current situation

The Agricultural Prospects Report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) estimates total 2015 domestic wheat production to be 4,673,000 MT, leaving an import requirement of 895,000 MT to cover domestic needs. This compares to typical annual imports of approximately 1,500,000 MT of wheat and wheat flour from regional markets, primarily Pakistan and Kazakhstan. Strong domestic production is likely to improve food availability and access over the coming lean season.

Most second season crops are progressing favorably throughout the country, including maize and rice, which account for 12.5 percent of the total national cereal production of 5,803,000 MT this year. Rice is used for household consumption while maize is dedicated to both human and animal use. In surplus-producing areas, rice and maize are supplied to regional markets, such as Kabul, Kunduz, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Herat.

Cotton has been affected by pests in northern Afghanistan. In southern Afghanistan, particularly in Helmand Province, farmers are replacing cotton with other cash crops due to low cotton prices during recent years, particularly in areas that rely on ground water for irrigating second season crops.  

The average terms of trade (ToT) between casual labor wages and wheat grain remained steady during the month of July at 12.9 KG of wheat per day of labor. In comparison to July of last year, wheat to labor ToT has increased slightly by 1.6 percent.

The average ToT between sheep and wheat for the month of July was 247 KG of wheat per one year live female sheep, similar to the same month of 2014, with a small increase of 0.7 percent.

The average price for low quality wheat flour (Low Price) in main markets was AFN 25.7/KG in July 2015, representing a slight increase of 1.4 percent as compared to the previous month. The price variation in all major cities monitored ranged from no change to a 4.7 percent increase. In comparison to July 2014, the current average price is lower by 5.8 percent. The largest decreases occurred in Kabul (14.3 percent) and Mazar-e-Sharif (12 percent). The variation in other major cities ranged from -8.9 percent to 3.3 percent. The current average price remains above the five-year average price for July by 11.1 percent.

The average number of days worked by a laborer during July 2015 was reported at 14 days. The highest number of working days was in Kabul and Nili (20 days), followed by Herat (16 days), Kandahar, Jalalabad and Maimana (12 days), Faizabad (10 days) and Mazar-e-Sharif (8 days). In comparison to the same month last year, the average number of working days increased by 4.8 percent.

The deteriorating security situation is having an adverse impact on food security outcomes in affected rural areas, particularly for those displaced by conflict. Although staple foods are widely available in markets, conflict is limiting physical and financial access. Lack of access to safe drinking water and poor sanitary conditions among IDPs is increasing the number of malnourished individuals, particularly children.

Melons and watermelons are important cash crops, particularly in the northern and northeastern regions. There are no reports of any major impact of pests or diseases this year for these crops in northern Afghanistan, and no major losses to the melon fly are expected. In southern Afghanistan, melon and watermelon crops are reported to be developing well. Harvests started in July in some areas and will continue through September. In northeastern and northern regions, there is an increase of melon and watermelon harvest from 15 to 20 percent compared to last year.

In the central highlands region, the road between Bamyan and Daykundi has been improved. Flash floods have affected localized areas in Yakawlang, Punjab and Waras Districts of Bamyan Province, but are not expected to worsen food security outcomes for rural populations in these districts. Lower temperatures as compared to last year have supported the development of potato crops in Bamyan Province.

Flash floods in parts of the eastern region affected houses and agricultural lands. Some households may have lost food stocks, and may face difficulty stocking sufficient food for the upcoming winter and lean season. Flood-affected households in this region are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from September through at least December.

Recently, some reports from Khost and Paktika Provinces have indicated that the number of malnourished children is increasing among displaced households. HelatNet TPO and ACF conducted a Rapid Nutrition Assessment in Golan Refugee Camp in Khost Province during the month of June 2015. The assessment covers the total population (54,685 people) of the camp. According to the findings, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) is 12.3 percent, and that for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is 3.8 percent. In Paktika Province, the Nutrition and Mortality SMART survey conducted by IMC and ACF during May 2015 in five districts indicated a GAM prevalence of 7.8 percent and SAM prevalence of 0.8 percent.

Updated assumptions

Most assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of July to December 2015 remain unchanged. However, the following assumption has been modified:

  • The coming wet season is expected to have above-average amounts of rainfall and snowfall from October 2015 to May 2016, associated with the ongoing El Niño event.

 

Projected outlook through December 2015

Winter wheat planting is expected to start in September and continue through December, generating some labor opportunities just before the lean season. This will help poor households to be able to stock more food for the winter and lean season.

During the coming wet season from October to May, precipitation is likely to be above-average due to the ongoing El Niño event. This will support winter wheat planting and good pasture conditions, leading to improved body conditions for livestock. The above-average rainfall will have a positive impact on sources of food and income for poor households. Good pasture conditions will support the availability of fresh milk, which will support dietary diversity and provide income from milk sales for funding market purchases of food.

Wheat imports from Kazakhstan and Pakistan will continue to meet domestic market demand throughout the scenario period through December.

Acute food security outcomes in most of the country from August to December are anticipated to be Minimal (IPC Phase 1), except in the provinces of Badakhshan, Nuristan, Bamyan, Daykundi, Badghis, Ghor, and some districts of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar Provinces, where they are anticipated to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

Similarly, households who rely almost solely on remittances from Iran in the east-central mountainous agropastoral livelihood zone are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), as there has already been a significant reduction in the level of remittances from Iran. However, the number of households severely impacted by this reduction in remittances is limited.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. 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 approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics