Food Security Outlook Update

Normal development of wheat crop throughout the country

March 2015
2015-Q1-1-1-AF-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

  • Most of the country has received significant precipitation from late February through March. Snowpack in most basins monitored is now near-average, with above-average accumulation in parts of the east and north. The availability of water for irrigation during 2015 growing seasons is likely to be near-average. Average to above-average precipitation is expected through May, supporting normal to early development of winter and spring grain crops.

  • At the higher elevations, poor households’ food stocks will soon be depleted. Typically, poor households in these areas will sell some of their livestock to procure food to last until the grain harvest starts in August or September. With above-average terms of trade between livestock and wheat, most pastoral and agropastoral households will likely be able to fund food purchases without making unsustainable livestock sales.

  • Although dry conditions in January and early February had some impact on the germination of wheat in rainfed areas, precipitation in late February and early March reduced the stress on crops. Throughout the country, crops are developing normally, with no reports of significant adverse factors. Precipitation in recent weeks has contributed to normal or slightly early crop development.

Current situation

  • The October to May wet season started slightly late in many areas. Total rainfall prior to the onset of winter was low, but planted area under winter wheat was near-average. Total precipitation remained well below-average through mid-February. However, in late February and early March, much of the country received regular, well-distributed snow and rain. Regular rainfall at lower elevations and snowfall at higher elevations has continued into March. Despite the more timely and regular precipitation in February and March, total accumulation remains below the 2002 to 2011 average in the central highlands and in northern, northwestern, and southern Afghanistan. In parts of western and eastern Afghanistan, total seasonal precipitation is nearing average or above-average.
  • In the mountains of the central highlands, temperatures have been below-average since October. The low temperatures preserve snowpack, which will provide irrigation water later in the year. However crop growth may be delayed in eastern Afghanistan due to lower temperatures.
  • Temperatures in lower elevation areas have generally been above the long-term average since late January (data from 1961 to 1990). Typically, spring wheat planting takes place in late March and early April. However, this year’s spring wheat planting took place earlier in March, particulary in northern and northwestern Afghanistan. Planted area under spring wheat is reported to be the same as last year. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and ground reports indicate that current crop conditions in both northern Afghanistan and areas of Pakistan that produce staples for export to Afghanistan are somewhat better than usual. In Pakistan, crops this year are performing above-average, although early development is not as strong as last year. The spring wheat sowing in northern and northwestern Afghanistan has increased labor opportunities, facilitating market purchases of food for households in rainfed areas.
  • Above-normal temperatures across much of Afghanistan have facilitated the growth of pasture earlier than usual. Pastoralists and agropastoralists have moved livestock into spring grazing areas nearly a month earlier than normal. This has allowed many households to preserve remaining fodder stocks for next year.
  • With spring livestock births, the availability of milk and milk products increases. Livestock births are reported to be higher than last year and near to normal.
  • February wheat flour prices remained higher than last year and the five-year average in the majority of reference markets, in part due to inflation. However, the majority of people in rural areas stocked sufficient wheat and wheat flour before the winter, which will last until the end of March or into April.

Updated assumptions

The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of January to June 2015. However, the precipitation assumption that was updated in February has been further refined:

  • The remainder of the wet season is expected to have average to above-average amounts of rainfall and snowfall from March to May. Spring rains are expected to have normal timing and distribution, with minimal adverse impact on typical agricultural activities.

Projected outlook through June 2015

  • The seasonal improvements in food security have started earlier than usual, with most lower elevation areas having already emerged from the lean season. Lowland, rainfed areas of northern and northwestern Afghanistan have already seen increasing dietary diversity and access to markets.
  • At higher elevations, poor households’ food stocks will be exhausted by late March or in April. Poor households typically sell some of their livestock to then fund market purchases until the harvest in June or July. With livestock prices higher than their five-year averages and terms of trade between livestock and wheat above-average, pastoral and agropastoral households should be able to purchase sufficient quantities of food this spring. They will also benefit from the seasonal increase in milk availability and will be able to fund some purchases with income from the increased availability of labor opportunities.
  • From March to June, food security outcomes are anticipated to be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most provinces, with the exception of Badakhshan, Bamyan, Daykundi, Nuristan, and Ghor Provinces which will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), as well as Badghis Province, which may reach Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the April to June period. Based on current optimal crop conditions, early spring cultivation is likely to lead to an early harvest, and the likely continuation of regular and timely rain is expected to support stable food security outcomes through June. However, if spring rains do not perform according to the forecast, food security outcomes could deteriorate, particulary in rainfed agricultural areas of the North.
  • As of January 31, there were 818,163 internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly concentrated in the South and West. Additionally, there are 7,018 households that have been affected by natural disasters in 2015. These households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between now and June.
  • Households who rely almost solely on remittances from Iran in the East-Central mountainous agropastoral livelihood zone, located in most of Bamyan and Daykundi Provinces and higher elevation areas of Panjsher, Wardak, Ghazni, Parwan, and Kapisa Provinces in the Central Highlands, are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). There has already been a significant reduction in the level of remittances from Iran, and it is likely to continue through June. The number of households severely impacted by this reduction in remittances is very small.

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