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Despite moderate rains and snow in early February, drier than usual conditions persist

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tajikistan
  • February 2013
Despite moderate rains and snow in early February, drier than usual conditions persist

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Record high January remittances of 178.8 million USD and higher than usual stocks of wheat and potatoes have households better prepared than usual for the ongoing January to March lean season.

    • In late January and early February, moderate rains and snow fell, but, following the slow start of the wet season, most river basins have received below average precipitation since October. Early wet season rains support land preparation and sowing for winter crops such as winter wheat and barley to be harvested from May to July 2013. Area planted under winter crops may have been reduced. 

    • Continuing poor wet season performance and low skill, but longer range forecasts suggest rainfall may be suppressed during the March to June spring wet season. While most indications are for normal performance, below average spring rainfall totals or poor distribution could reduce agricultural productivity, especially of rainfed land, and associated income-earning activities. This might increase food insecurity, especially in southern Tajikistan.






    • Wheat and wheat flour prices rose faster than usual following the harvests in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, probably due to high export prices this year in Kazakhstan, but they have been remarkably steady since November.  
    • Wheat and wheat flour prices will likely rise further in Kazakhstan, the primary exporter to Tajikistan, especially towards the end of the lean season in March.


    Khatlon, Direct Rule Districts (DRD), Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO)

    • Snowfall deficits and a likely average to below average March to June spring wet season will likely still lead to normal agricultural conditions for winter and spring crops.

    Eastern Pamir Plateau livestock livelihood zone (eastern GBAO)

    • Significant livestock losses during the 2012 winter have reduced herd sizes. Households, while having received some assistance, may have been less stocked for winter than usual.
    • Conditions will likely improve from March to June with new livestock births and slow recovery of herd sizes.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    Most indicators and proxy indicators of household income have remained relatively high or increased from December to January. Remittances totaled 178.8 million USD, the highest January on record and the 20th monthly record in a row. Remittances have been supported by high levels of labor migration to Russia and Kazakhstan. In 2012, outmigration, a primary livelihood strategy of seeking labor, reached a record with 877,335 outmigrations recorded and 673,434 returns to Tajikistan. Labor migration seasonally started to decrease from September, and remittances have reached much lower levels this winter than during the rest of the year as more labor migrants returned to the country. This year, a large number of migrants appear to have remained in their labor destinations, primarily Russia and Kazakhstan, so there may continue to be a higher than normal level of remittances over the winter. Even in January, there were more outmigrations than returns. Of course, not every poor household receives remittances. Other proxy indicators of household income, such as wages for both skilled and unskilled casual labor have remained seasonally normal. The price of skilled labor has even increased, unusually from December to January in Kurgan-Tyube.

    The prices of most essential commodities remained relatively flat at the end of 2012 and have remained so in early 2013. Wheat and wheat flour are well above prices from 2011, but they have not increased in most markets since October. At this time of year, most rural households are relying heavily on their own stocks. This year, households have stocked more due to the above average production. According to a November 2012 survey, 85 percent of households reported having household stocks. This is a similar level as had stocks in 2010 following that very large cereal harvest. Households reported their wheat stocks would last for an average of six weeks. The Tajikistan Statistical Agency indicates that cereal production was 1.2 million metric tons (MMT), a level 12 percent above their 2011 production estimate. Potato production also appears to have been high, judging by the number of households with potato stocks. Households with less land or who did not grow enough to stock often use credit to access food from markets.

    Stocks, credit purchases, and market purchases provide food in the winter, but by April, casual labor opportunities increase. The labor migration season also traditionally starts in April. At this time, dietary diversity increases with spring livestock births providing milk. Increased labor opportunities also facilitate market access in many areas with the winter wheat harvest providing additional opportunities in May and June. These should seasonally increase dietary diversity, given normal performance of the winter crops.

    The 2012-2013 agricultural season has gotten off to a slow start due to below average rains and snowfall from October 1 through February 20. Residual rains and snow from last year may have supplied adequate soil moisture and irrigation water for planting in some areas, as they have in irrigated areas in Afghanistan. Early wet season rains support land preparation and sowing for winter crops such as winter wheat and barley. If winter crops, especially wheat, are not planted before snows, spring wheat tends to be lower yielding and total, national wheat production would likely be reduced. The continued below average snowfall can decrease irrigation water availability later in the year.

    The February longer range precipitation forecasts from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University indicate normal spring rainfall, but thus far, the October to June wet season has not performed well. A poor spring wet season from March to June would be especially difficult for households who rely on rainfed agriculture or who typically plant second crops following the harvest of winter wheat.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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