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Early March precipitation supports spring planting, but below average crop production expected

  • Key Message Update
  • Afghanistan
  • March 2022
Early March precipitation supports spring planting, but below average crop production expected

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season approaches its peak, households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present throughout the country. Poor urban households including laborers, others who have lost their jobs, and farmers affected by drought last year are likely to be among the worst affected. Furthermore, many households who remain displaced due to conflict in 2021 and due to natural disasters to date, as well as hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghan returnees from Iran and Pakistan have been separated from livelihoods and assets and are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the absence of assistance. In the spring, some increases in labor opportunities and seasonal availability of crop and livestock products will improve outcomes for some households, though millions will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the absence of assistance given deteriorated macroeconomic conditions, limited income-earning opportunities, supply chain challenges, and significantly above-average prices.

    • At the higher elevations where livelihood options are more limited and where the lean season lasts longer, any poor households who may still have food stocks remaining will soon deplete them. Typically, poor households in these areas will sell some of their livestock to procure enough food to last until the grain harvest starts in August or September. However, with below-average terms of trade between livestock and wheat, most pastoral and agropastoral households will likely not be able to fund food purchases without making unsustainable livestock sales.

    • After below-average precipitation during the first months of the wet season, above-average precipitation in the first half of March has generally supported spring planting (of mostly rainfed wheat) and contributed to normal or slightly early crop development according to key informants. However, snowpack remained below-average throughout the country and is now rapidly declining due to warming temperatures. Forecasts suggest below-average precipitation is most likely during the remainder of the wet season through May. Although availability of water for first season irrigated crops—primarily wheat—will likely be sufficient for normal development in most areas, availability for second season crops—mainly rice, beans, and cash crops—and for rainfed crops will likely be insufficient in some areas. To date, however, crops are so far developing normally, with no reports of significant adverse factors.

    • Humanitarian assistance distributions continue at significantly scaled-up levels. WFP reported reaching 12 million people (a preliminary figure) in February under a variety of food, nutrition, and resilience assistance programs, and planned to reach 18 million in March. However, in late March, WFP reported having suspended assistance operations in Kabul city, Kandahar city, and Ghor province, pending negotiations with Taliban authorities regarding operational disagreements. It was not specified when the suspensions occurred.

    • In February 2022, prices of staple wheat grain, wheat flour, and rice were relatively lower or stable compared to January according to data from WFP, mainly as a result of local currency appreciation (supported by ongoing currency auctions), increased supply from Pakistan following the start of harvesting, and increased supply and reduced consumer demand given high levels of humanitarian assistance. However, prices of staple wheat flour (low price), which is preferred by poor households, were significantly higher than the same time last year, by 46 percent, and the five-year average, by 78 percent. Meanwhile, prices of rice (low price) in February were 15 percent higher than the same time last year but 14 percent less than the five-year average.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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