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Continued below average snowfall could reduce crop yields in 2013

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tajikistan
  • January 2013
Continued below average snowfall could reduce crop yields in 2013

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Record high December remittances of 302.4 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.

    • The wet season has had a slow start with most river basins receiving below average precipitation from October 1 to January 20. 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. 

    • The possibility of below average spring rains from March to June is increasing, as suggested by the continuing poor wet season performance and low skill, but longer range forecasts from international climate centers. While most indications are for normal performance of the current and coming winter and spring wet seasons, poor performance of the spring rains could greatly reduce agricultural productivity, livestock production, and associated income earning opportunities in rural areas of 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 were mostly steady between November and December.
    • Wheat and wheat flour prices will likely rise further in Kazakhstan, the primary exporter to Tajikistan.


    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.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    Most indicators and proxy indicators of household income have remained relatively high or increased from November to December. Remittances totaled 302.4 million USD, the highest December on record and the 19th 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. As is seasonally typical, the number of returning labor migrants seasonally started to decrease from September, and remittances have already began their seasonal decline 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 be a higher than normal level of remittances over the winter. Of course, not every poor household receives remittances.

    The prices of most essential commodities remained relatively flat at the end of 2012. Wheat and wheat flour, while well above prices from 2011, ended the year not much higher than they had been since October in most major markets. 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 January 20. Good 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. While forecasts from local authorities and from international ones indicate pretty normal seasonal forecasts through April. However, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University’s precipitation forecast indicates an increased likelihood of below normal precipitation late in the spring wet season (Figure 2). This would occur at the end of the spring wet season, so the potential impact this could have on cropping would depend highly upon how the beginning of the season performed. However, the multi-model forecast, while very low skill at this time scale, indicates an increased chance of below average precipitation in areas important for agricultural and livestock production in Tajikstan, including Khatlon Oblast, the Pajakent and Rasht Valleys, and Sughd Oblast.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    IRI multi-model probability forecast for precipitation May-June-July 2013, issued January 2013

    Figure 2

    IRI multi-model probability forecast for precipitation May-June-July 2013, issued January 2013

    Source: IRI

    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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