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The wheat harvest has concluded in Tajikistan, and preliminary reports indicate a nine percent improvement in production over last year. However, wheat flour prices remain 27 percent above the five-year average, limiting access for poor households relying on market purchases.
The planting of winter crops started normally, with adequate precipitation in October. Due to the ongoing El Niño, above-average precipitation is expected for Tajikistan during the October 2015 to May 2016 wet season, which will support agricultural production. However, above-average temperatures may increase the likelihood of flooding in March/April 2016.
Decreasing remittances and further weakening of the Tajikistani somoni (TJS) against international currencies will lead to a deterioration in purchasing power for households dependent on remittances. These households are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from now until at least March 2016.
|The average price for wheat flour is 27 percent above the five-year average.
|The value of remittances from Tajikistani migrant workers in the Russian Federation will remain well below levels compared to 2014.
Harvests of 2015 winter and most spring crops, mainly wheat, barley, and maize, were near completion by the end of September. Preliminary estimates as of October 2nd from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate production of 790,000 metric tons (MTs) of grain, reflecting a nine percent increase compared to the same time last year. The improved wheat production is also reflected in analysis from FAO/GIEWS.
The cotton harvest is underway, and with 245,000 MT of raw cotton harvested to date, accounting for 61 percent of the total expected production. It is expected that cotton production will be similar to last year, with similar planted area. It is reported that more than 150,000 people are currently engaged in cotton harvesting, and pick nearly 5,900 MT of raw cotton per day, enhancing labor opportunities.
With good grain production this year and normal wages from the cotton harvest, it is expected that most households will have normal access to food and income sources. The dietary diversity of rural farming households and landless agricultural laborers has improved, as most rural households who are engaged in agricultural and livestock activities are less dependent on market purchase, relying more on own production. However, households dependent on market purchases, mostly urban, are adversely affected by high wheat flour prices.
The price of wheat flour has been increasing since last year, but is now stable at high levels. The depreciation of the Tajikistan somoni (TJS) against the U.S. dollar (USD), which has lost 19 percent of its value since beginning of 2015, has helped maintain the average wheat flour price 20 percent higher than the respective 2014 level and 27 percent above the five-year average, given the dependence on imports of wheat grain and flour. A slight increase in fuel and transportation costs has also maintained upward pressure on prices, keeping them high despite the recent harvests (Figure 2).
Grain export projections for Kazakhstan, including wheat, have increased and are expected to reach eight million metric tons (MMT) during the current marketing year (July 2015 to June 2016). This estimate is up from the six MMT estimated earlier in the year, and from total exports during the previous marketing year. This increase reflects current average grain production (17.7 MMT), as well as carryover stocks from previous years (USDA/FAS). With an average wheat harvest concluded in Tajikistan and wheat grain exports from Kazakhstan that are greater than last year, it is expected that wheat flour prices are likely to remain stable in Tajikistan and not experience significant further increase during the outlook period. However, the value of the Tajikistan somoni (TJS) against international currencies is an important factor influencing overall price trends for imported goods including wheat, and needs to be monitored closely during the coming months.
Prices for potatoes, which are a cash crop for households living in mountainous areas such as the Rasht Valley, were very high at the beginning of the 2014/15 marketing year, motivating farmers to bring more area under cultivation for the 2015/16 season. As a result, prices decreased significantly prior to the start of the harvest (September/October). However, prices have been recovering since August 2015, and are now similar to the five-year average (Figure 3).
October marked the beginning of the 2015/16 wet season in Tajikistan, and average to near-average precipitation fell across the country, mostly in cultivating areas where it supported a normal start to the planting of winter crops, mainly wheat. It is expected that, because of the ongoing El Niño event, cumulative precipitation will be above-average during the October 2015 to May 2016 wet season, which will support the production of staple crops. However, due to above-average to near average temperatures, precipitation may fall as rain at higher elevations than is typical, with the potential for rain to fall on snowpack, increasing the risk of flooding.
According to the Ministry of Labor, Migration, and Employment of Population, 430,000 labor migrants have traveled outside of the country between January and August 2015, reflecting a nine percent reduction compared to the same time last year. The decline in migration reflects stricter regulations for entrance to the Russian Federation and activities of labor migrants from foreign countries. The Central Bank of Russia has reported that the amount of money remitted to Tajikistan during January to June 2015 decreased by 58 percent as compared to the same period last year. However, the National Bank of Tajikistan (NBT) reported that national remittances have declined by 32 percent as compared to last year. Poor households that rely on remittances as a main source of food and income will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from now until at least March 2016.
Figure 2. Wheat flour price in Tajikistan Somoni (TJS) per Kilogram (KG) in 2015/16 compared to 2014/15 and the average.
Source: Agency on Statistics and APK Inform Agency
Potato prices in Tajikistan Somoni (TJS) per Kilogram (KG) in 2015/16 compared to 2014/15 and the five-year average
Source: Agency on Statistics and APK Inform Agency
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