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The Tajikistani Somoni has depreciated consistently against major international currencies since the start of 2015, losing nearly one-third of its value against the U.S. dollar (USD). The depreciation has increased the price of many imported foods including vegetable oil, sugar, and wheat flour.
According to the National Bank of Tajikistan, remittances were 33 percent lower in 2015 than in 2014. Lower remittances have contributed to the weakening of the Somoni and deteriorated household purchasing power. As a result, many poor households are classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least September.
Although El Niño typically drives increased precipitation over much of Central Asia including Tajikistan, cumulative precipitation during the October to April wet season has so far been below average in comparison to the long-term (2002-2011) mean.
Total precipitation through February for the October to April wet season has been similar to the amount received during the 2014/2015 wet season, but below the long-term (2002-2011) average. Despite being below long-term averages, precipitation has so far been sufficient to support the normal development of winter crops. The U.S. Geological Survey anticipates average precipitation for the reminder of the wet season, which will facilitate the continued normal development of winter and spring crops. However, above-average near-surface air temperatures are also expected to persist, which may deplete soil moisture and negatively affect the production of wheat and cotton, ultimately reducing yields.
In 2015, only 270,000 metric tons (MT) of raw cotton, the main cash crop and a major source of foreign reserve earnings, were produced. This was 27 percent lower than 2014 production. Decreased production is attributed to the lower global cotton price, which motivated farmers to plant other crops, as well as the higher price of inputs such as fertilizers and irrigation water. While overall production was below average, cotton fiber exports in 2015 were estimated at 108,000 MT, 25 percent above last year’s exports.
The Somoni has depreciated consistently against foreign currencies since the start of 2015, losing nearly one-third of its value against the USD since January 2015. The depreciation has increased the price of many imported foods including vegetable oil, sugar, and wheat flour. The national average price of first-grade wheat flour was stable between November and December 2015, but remains 20 percent higher than the five-year average.
However, the price of potatoes has decreased further in December and is currently 20 percent lower than both the 2014 and five-year average (Figure 1). The price for potatoes was very high at the beginning of the 2014/2015 marketing year, motivating farmers to put more area under cultivation for the 2015/2016 season. As a result, the price decreased significantly prior to the start of the harvest in September and continues to remain low. Potatoes are the main cash crop for households living in mountainous areas such as Rasht Valley and farmers are expected to earn a below average income as a result.
Remittances have decreased throughout 2015. This decrease is due to a combination of factors. First, there is a slowing of economic activity in the Russian Federation, the main destination of Tajikistani labor migrants, lowering the number of work opportunities available. Secondly, the decline reflects stricter regulations for entrance to the Russian Federation for labor migrants. Lastly, the depreciation of both the Somoni and the Russian ruble (RUB) against international currencies has lowered the amount of money remitted in terms of USD. As a result, fewer Tajikistani migrants are currently in the Russian Federation: According to the Russian Federation’s Federal Migration Service, the number of Tajikistani labor migrants decreased from 999,000 in January 2015 to 861,000 in January 2016.
Most households will have adequate access to food and near normal incomes through September, including during the ongoing (January to April) lean season. However, many poor households will face difficulty paying for all basic food and non-food needs. A World Bank survey conducted in late 2015 reported that the per capita income of the bottom 40 percent of Tajikistanis decreased by roughly 20 percent. Fifty percent of households reported reducing food consumption in order to be able to pay for non-food needs, including utilities and health care. Households that rely on markets to access food will be affected by higher food prices, and this impact will be aggravated for households where the main source of income is remittances. As a result, poor households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least September.
As of February 2016, FEWS NET shifted from regular, monthly reporting on Tajikistan to periodic, special reporting. Currently, analysts monitor the food security situation in the country and draft reports as needed to provide early warning or in-depth analysis of drivers of food insecurity.
Seasonal calendar in a typical year
Source: FEWS NET
Source: Agency on Statistics/FAO GIEWS
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.