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The start of 2012-13 wet season was below average

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Afghanistan
  • November 2012
The start of 2012-13 wet season was below average

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Due to the second largest grain harvest on record in 2012 and favorable agricultural labor and livestock conditions, all areas of Afghanistan will remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through January. However, as the Febuary to May lean season sets in, extreme northern Badakhshan and the Wakhan Corridor are likely to move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) (Figures 1 and 2).

    • Despite the recent increase in international wheat prices, wheat grain prices in Afghanistan in October remained broadly similar to the five-year average. However, they have risen over the past few months (Figure 3).

    • From early October until around November 10, the wet season started poorly with very little rain. Rains are now underway. Rains have started to fill seasonal deficits, especially in the East.

    Current Situation
    • Compared to the 2002 to 2011 long term mean, accumulated precipitation from October 1 through November 20 shows precipitation deficits in northern, northeastern, and southern Afghanistan. However, at this stage, the rainfall deficit has had minimal impact on the ongoing September to December winter crop planting window. Planting is progressing normally. Winter wheat is predominately planted on irrigated land. Thus planting conditions depend to a large degree on the previous year’s snowfall for moisture rather than the current season’s precipitation, except in years with poor irrigation water availability.
    • Two days of relatively heavy rainfall have reduced deficits, and in eastern Afghanistan, deficits have even been eliminated in some provinces.
    • Due to sufficient irrigation water availability following the 2012 primary grain harvest, second crop harvests from September to early November, including barley, rice, cotton, and maize were normal to above normal in most parts of the country. This harvest provides both food stocks for human consumption and fodder stocks for livestock.
    • While second crops have done well both in terms of production and ability to sell to markets, the cotton price this year was not nearly as high as in recent years. Cotton is primarily grown in the North. Due to good demand for agricultural labor across Afghanistan this year, the lower cotton price had minimal impact on wage rates for cotton-related labor. The volume of the harvest was also normal. Overall, the impacts of the lower price on poor households’ income was limited.
    • Due to good pasture conditions and higher than normal fodder availability, livestock body conditions have remained good into October and November. Good body conditions and steady demand have kept prices higher than the five-year average. Demand for livestock has been sufficient, particularly leading up to Eid Qurban at the end of October. According to the October 2012 World Food Program (WFP) Initial Market Price Bulletin, the October 2012 terms of trade (ToT) between a one year old, female sheep and a kilogram of wheat increased by an average change across the eight reference markets of 30 percent from last year. These improvements were significantly higher in Mazar in the North and in Faizabad in Badakshan Province in the northeastern mountains, but all monitored markets showed positive improvements in the sheep to wheat terms of trade.
    • Due to significantly lower needs for imported wheat, the above average national wheat harvest, and continuing uninterrupted wheat supply from regional markets, particularly of wheat flour from Pakistan, wheat prices in Afghanistan remained below or similar to the five-year average over most of 2012. While prices have increased in recent months (Figure 3) and the price of imports has risen, the reduced import needs should continue to moderate the impact of rising international wheat prices.

    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 October to March 2012.

    • However, in October, it was assumed that “the October to June wet season will start normally.” However, the wet season started slowly. This assumption has thus been changed to despite a poor start of season, total rainfall will be near average over the course of the October to May wet season. Thus, this modification of the assumption will not modify the outcomes of the October to March scenario. 

    Projected Outlook through March 2013
    • Food security outcomes in the east-central mountainous agropastoral livelihood zone and extreme northern Badakhshan and the Wakhan Corridor are likely to remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through January 2013 because of the above normal wheat harvest obtained in September 2012, above normal labor opportunities during the harvest time, and income from domestic labor migration.
    • Extreme cold temperatures in early 2012 led to the loss of livestock in extreme northern Badakhshan and the Wakhan Corridor. These losses mean that by the lean season, households will have very poor food diversity and more limited food stocks as they were not able to sell as many livestock over the course of the year. When the February to May lean season sets in, food security outcomes are likely to elevate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in extreme northern Badakhshan and the Wakhan Corridor.

    Households who rely almost solely on remittances from Iran in the east-central mountainous agropastoral livelihood zone are also likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as there has already been a significant reduction in the level of remittances from Iran. Remittances are likely to decrease even more between now and March. Nonetheless, the number of severely impacted households is very small. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Wheat flour prices in Afghan afghani per kilogram (AFN/kg), January 2007 to October 2012

    Figure 2

    Wheat flour prices in Afghan afghani per kilogram (AFN/kg), January 2007 to October 2012

    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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