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Regular spring rainfall has improved harvest prospects

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tajikistan
  • March 2013
Regular spring rainfall has improved harvest prospects

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Despite high prices for wheat and wheat flour and continued high demand for imported foods, income sources in Tajikistan were seasonally normal or increasing slightly. Remittances in February 2013 were at a record high for February at 180.3 million U.S. dollars.

    • Despite the slow start of the wet season in October and November, planted area is slightly above last year, and prospects for the winter wheat harvest starting in June are for near average to slightly above average production. Spring rainfall in March has been temporally well distributed, and it is expected to continue at its current, regular pace.

    • Prices of wheat and wheat flour in local currency terms are at or near record highs. However, when accounting for exchange rates, the current prices are not at as high the 2008 peak prices.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • Since May, wheat and wheat flour prices rose significantly in local currency terms. This is mainly the result of rising prices in Kazakhstan from which large quantities of wheat and wheat flour are imported.
    • Prices are likely to remain stable, but at their current high levels given the costs of imports, despite good production prospects for the local wheat harvest starting in late May.

    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

    Income sources have been seasonally normal in most of Tajikistan. In February and March, as winter stocks become exhausted, households increasingly depend on the market for food, which they access either through credit to be paid back later in the year or through income earned through other livelihood strategies. In February, unofficial estimates of remittances were at 180.3 million U.S. dollars, marking the 21st consecutive monthly high record. In Dushanbe, Kurgan-Tyube in the South, and Gharm in the Rasht Valley, both skilled and unskilled urban casual labor rates were steady between January and February, according to data collected by the World Food Program (WFP). In Khujand in the North and in Khorog in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), there was a not seasonally unusual, slight decline in skilled and unskilled urban casual labor rates. Meat remained at seasonable, though relatively high prices, indicating livestock may be sold for similar seasonable, but relatively prices. Livestock prices in March are expected to have increased somewhat as demand increased for Nowruz celebrations on and around March 21.

    While total cumulative rainfall since the beginning of the wet season in October may still be somewhat below average, rain and snowfall have been falling regularly in Tajikistan in late February and through March, and the volume of spring rain has been steady in the first two thirds of March. Regular storm systems are expected to continue to move through Central Asia at a similar, fairly regular pace, for the remainder of the spring rainy season through April and into May in the northern areas of Tajikistan in the Ferghana Valley.

    Planted area put under winter wheat from August to November 2012 was a slight increase compared to the 2011 to 2012 growing season. Germination and normal seasonal development appears to be normal probably due to the availability of irrigation water late last year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). Like in some northern areas of Afghanistan, the harvest may be slightly earlier than usual due to high temperatures in February and March 2013. The winter wheat harvest, which will begin in June, is expected to be near average to somewhat above average. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index indicates better than average vegetation growth in southern Tajikistan and lower elevation areas near Dushanbe.

    Despite losses of livestock due to extreme cold during 2012 in parts of GBAO, pastoral and agropastoral conditions will improve quickly with the coming of spring. As temperatures rise and livestock give birth, fresh milk and milk products will again become available to households with livestock. This improves dietary diversity and effectively ends the lean season in these areas. In the more labor-dependent areas, the lean season ends as households send members to Russia and Kazakhstan for labor migration, local labor demand increases for spring planting and weeding and for construction work, and early vegetables become available from home gardens and markets.

    Despite good harvest prospects and strong supply from last year’s above average wheat harvest, wheat and wheat flour prices continue to be high in Tajikistan. Starting in May 2012, prices rose in reaction to international price trends, primarily as the price of wheat and wheat products rose in Kazakhstan, the primary source of Tajikistan’s imports. In nominal terms, the local currency prices of wheat flour of various grades and of wheat are at or very near record levels. However, when the prices are converted to U.S. dollars, prices tend to be not quite as high as they were during their 2008 peaks (Figure 2). While prices of wheat grain may increase slightly in March and April, as demand for spring wheat seed increases, prices are expected to remain relatively stable but at their current elevated levels. Potato prices have dropped in southern Tajikistan, probably due to the arrival of low-cost imports from Pakistan in February. However, these supplies have yet to reach northern, eastern, or higher elevation areas.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    First grade wheat flour prices, per kilogram (kg) in Dushanbe, 2008-2013

    Figure 2

    First grade wheat flour prices, per kilogram (kg) in Dushanbe, 2008-2013

    Source: WFP Tajikistan, OANDA

    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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