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The wheat harvest is improving food access, particularly in rural areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Afghanistan
  • June 2024 - January 2025
The wheat harvest is improving food access, particularly in rural areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Analysis in brief
  • Food security context
  • Current food security conditions as of June 2024
  • Analysis of key food and income sources
  • Humanitarian food assistance
  • Current acute food insecurity outcomes as of June 2023
  • Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025
  • Projected acute food insecurity outcomes through January 2025
  • Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in Afghanistan from June to September. Recent flooding, the lingering impacts of drought, and poor macroeconomic conditions are hindering household access to food and income. Household food access is expected to improve with the ongoing harvest in most of the country's lower-elevation areas, supported by typical seasonal income improvements associated with the availability of casual labor opportunities. However, households affected by recent floods in northeastern, northern, and western parts of the country are likely in need of emergency humanitarian food assistance following the loss of their crops and livestock. 
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely remain in some areas from October to January, while other areas remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Forecasted below-average rainfall in late 2024 is expected to impact agricultural labor opportunities, but households are still likely to plant winter wheat at average rates to try and maximize production. Acute food insecurity will likely increase seasonally during this period as household access to income-earning opportunities declines in the winter, particularly in urban cities and some parts of the northern and central highlands. 
    • The areas of highest concern include the central and northeastern highlands, urban areas, earthquake affected households in Herat, and returnees from Pakistan located largely in southern and eastern Afghanistan. 
    • Humanitarian food assistance needs are expected to increase seasonally through the projection period, particularly during the winter as households deplete their food stocks from the 2023/24 harvest and income-earning opportunities are limited. As the lean season starts to peak in early 2025, an estimated 8 to 9 million people will still need food assistance by January

    Analysis in brief

    The start of the 2023/24 rainy season was marked by below-average precipitation during the main wheat planting season, leading to below-normal planting rates, mainly in the northern parts of the country where rainfed wheat is dominant. Limited access to sufficient seed due to a below-normal 2023 harvest and a lack of access to fertilizers were other factors that resulted in below-average planting rates. However, favorable precipitation in the spring (March to May) helped improve water and reservoir levels for irrigation through the summer and the recovery of winter wheat conditions to near-normal conditions ahead of the start of the harvest. Nevertheless, limited access to labor opportunities and the lingering effects of the La Niña drought experienced from 2021-2023 are continuing to keep household purchasing capacity lower than normal and maintaining area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. 

    Flooding in early May 2024 severely affected northern, northeastern, and western provinces, causing extensive damage to thousands of households who typically depend on agriculture and livestock for food and income. According to UNOCHA, around 79,000 people were affected by natural disasters from May 1 to June 7, 2024, across Afghanistan, of which the most affected provinces are Baghlan, Ghor, Faryab, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces. Based on FEWS NET's field information, Baghlan province was particularly affected by the flooding where a significant portion of agricultural land, just over 12,000 jeribs (hectares), were affected by the floods. Around 9,500 jeribs were classified as irrigated agricultural land with the remainder of the affect land classified as rainfed agricultural land. Additionally, the Provincial Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Department (PAIL) reports extensive destruction from the floods, including to horticulture crops and water canals. Moreover, there was a considerable loss of livestock, with around 4,630 animals, predominantly sheep and goats, perishing. Approximately 85 percent of the damaged lands are concentrated in Central Baghlan, Burka, and Nahrin districts. 

    The start of the harvest in the eastern, southern, and lower elevations of the northern part of the country has improved the households' food security and reduced food consumption gaps. Nationally the harvest is expected to average, however, there are localized areas, particularly in eastern Afghanistan, where below-average production is expected as crops were affected by the heavy rainfall and flooding ahead of the harvest. Nevertheless, the increase in food access and availability and expected decline in food prices will improve acute food insecurity outcomes, supporting widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in eastern, southeastern, and some northern provinces. However, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to continue in northern and eastern areas where limited access to income and a below-average harvest continue to limit household access to food and income.

    The livestock sector is continuing to recover from the impact of the prior La Niña drought. The recent spring rains supported the recovery of pasture and forage, and livestock prices also increased during Eid ul Azha due to increased demand, which supported livestock sales and access to income for households with livestock. Generally, livestock-dependent households' food security will continue improving until September, driven by increased availability of grazing areas and improved livestock body conditions and increases in herds following livestock births in the spring in the country's eastern, southern, and central parts. From September to January, livestock body conditions and productivity are likely to seasonally decline through the winter. Livestock are expected to be reliant on straw and animal fodder during this time, but household purchasing capacity for straw and fodder will likely be low in the absence of humanitarian distributions. 

    Afghanistan continues to experience limited economic activity following the political transition in 2021. In the aftermath of the political transition, food prices rose sharply, driven largely by depreciation of the Afghani against the USD. Over the past two years, however, food prices have been declining, supported by stable imports and the appreciation of the Afghani. However, household purchasing capacity remains low due to poor economic conditions. Notably, availability of labor opportunities—an important source of income for poor households in both urban and rural areas—as well as wage rates have remained relatively stagnant over the past three years after declining sharply in the aftermath of the transition. Competition for limited available labor opportunities, has also recently increased following the forced return of around 600,000 Afghans from Pakistan and Iran since September 2023. On average nationally, laborers are working around two days a week and earn around 4.35 USD per day of work. The return of these Afghans and increased border control by Iran and Pakistan has also led to a general decline in remittances, particularly from Iran.

    Humanitarian food assistance distribution is ongoing with a typical seasonal decline beginning in May 2024. In May, WFP distributed 23,193 MT of food and provided 5.4 million USD in cash-based transfers to 3.7 million individuals. Of this, around 2.8 million people received general food assistance, including 8,500 households affected by floods. WFP is expected to maintain similar distribution levels through June 2024, reaching around 7 percent of the total population. However, distributions are likely to decline from July to October during the post-harvest period when access to food and income typically improves. 

    Learn more

    The analysis in this report is based on information available as of June 14, 2024. Follow these links for additional information: 


    Food security context

    Afghanistan's staple food supply is dependent on a mixture of wheat imports, primarily from Kazakhstan, as well as domestic production. Both food and cash crop production are important to rural livelihoods, with opportunities for labor linked to seasonal activity throughout agricultural production and marketing chains. Most agricultural areas have a mix of rainfed and irrigated crop production, with most crop production (75-80 percent) being considered irrigated, largely from snowmelt from the mountains, using gravity or solar irrigation systems. In the rainfed areas of northern Afghanistan, rainfall during the winter precipitation season (October to March), and the spring wet season (March to May) are important for crop production outcomes. Meanwhile, in the lowland irrigated areas, responsible for most of national-level wheat production, the amount of snowfall deposited during the winter months as well as the rate at which it melts during the spring are important for crop production. As such, the availability of sufficient water is important for both rainfed and irrigated crop production and, consequently, for food security in rural areas.

    From June to September, the winter wheat harvest and second season planting of wheat, maize, rice, and vegetables typically supports rural access to food and income. From September to December, land preparation and planting of winter wheat occurs, along with the second season harvest of rice and maize. During the winter (November to March), much of the winter wheat is dormant, but can be impacted by warm temperatures or fluctuations in temperature. It is during this time that snow accumulation in the highlands is important to monitor as spring snowmelt is an important source of water for the winter wheat and summer crops. 

    Afghanistan remains prone to weather shocks, including earthquakes, floods, and during La Niña's often drought. In the past few years, weather shocks have led to the loss of lives, livestock, and damage to livelihoods. In October 2023, four large earthquakes struck Herat Province in western Afghanistan, causing mass destruction. More recently, flooding May 2024 in northern, eastern, and southern Afghanistan following a historically wet March, April, and May 2024 resulted in the destruction of homes and crops, along with the loss of lives and livestock. 

    Figure 1. Seasonal calendar for a typical year
    Afghanistan seasonal calendar for a  typical year.

    Source: FEWS NET


    Current food security conditions as of June 2024

    Early warning of acute food insecurity outcomes requires forecasting outcomes months in advance to provide decision makers with sufficient time to budget, plan, and respond to expected humanitarian crises. However, due to the complex and variable factors that influence acute food insecurity, definitive predictions are impossible. Scenario Development is the methodology that allows FEWS NET to meet decision makers’ needs by developing a “most likely” scenario of the future. The starting point for scenario development is a robust analysis of current food security conditions, which is the focus of this section.

    Key guiding principles for FEWS NET’s scenario development process include applying the Disaster Risk Reduction framework and a livelihoods-based lens to assessing acute food insecurity outcomes. A household’s risk of acute food insecurity is a function of not only hazards (such as a drought) but also the household’s vulnerability to those hazards (for example, the household’s level of dependence on rainfed crop production for food and income) and coping capacity (which considers both household capacity to cope with a given hazard and the use of negative coping strategies that harm future coping capacity). To evaluate these factors, FEWS NET grounds this analysis in a strong foundational understanding of local livelihoods, which are the means by which a household meets their basic needs. FEWS NET’s scenario development process also accounts for the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework; the Four Dimensions of Food Security; and UNICEF’s Nutrition Conceptual Framework, and is closely aligned with the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analytical framework.

    Key hazards 

    Weather: The 2023/24 precipitation season could be categorized as a below-average first half of the season, with some areas receiving historically low precipitation amounts. This was followed by above-average precipitation in the second half of the season. The poor start of the season resulted in below-normal planting rates and moisture stress for winter wheat, but the average to above-average precipitation through the spring helped improve water and reservoir levels for irrigation through the summer and the recovery of winter wheat conditions to near-normal condition ahead of the start of the harvest. Nevertheless, the erratic precipitation season resulted in the winter wheat harvest being lower than initially anticipated for an El Niño season, when above-average rainfall is typically expected. Despite the poor start, heavy precipitation in the spring significantly improved soil moisture and cumulative precipitation anomalies, but also resulted in flooding (Figure 2).

    Figure 2. Seasonal rainfall compared to the 1981-2010 average, March to May 2024
    Seasonal rainfall compared to the 1981-2010 average, March to May 2024

    Source: CHIRPS VERSION 2.0

    Flooding in early May 2024, associated with the heavy rainfall, severely affected provinces in the north, northeast, and west of the country and caused extensive damage to agricultural and pastoral livelihoods, impacting thousands of households. According to UNOCHA, between May 1 and June 7 2024, 79,184 people were affected by flooding throughout Afghanistan; the most affected provinces were Baghlan, Ghor, Faryab, Takhar, and Badakhshan. Approximately 85 percent of the damaged lands are concentrated in Central Baghlan, Burka, and Nahrin districts. Based on FEWS NET's field information, Baghlan is among the worst affected areas: a significant portion of the agricultural land suffered damage, a total of 12,057 jeribs (hectares). According to the Provincial Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Department (PAIL)'s findings, there was additional and extensive destruction to horticulture crops and water canals. The loss of livestock is also considerable, with around 4,630 animals perishing, predominantly sheep and goats. 

    Economy: The economic slowdown, a lack of employment opportunities, and higher competition over the already limited number of working days per week for casual labor are suppressing earnings in the country's urban areas for most of the casual labor-dependent population. The current government eased petty trade taxation policies in May and June, improving the private sector's income marginally. Although the forced deportations from Pakistan have slowed down, the economic pressure of already returned Afghans persists in the main urban cities. According to the World Bank May 2024 Afghanistan Economic Monitor, headline inflation fell to -7.7 percent year-on-year (YoY) in April, driven by a drop in food inflation to -12.2 percent and non-food inflation to -2.2 percent, which is improving short-term food access for casual labor-dependent households (Figure 3). 

    Figure 3. Headline and food inflation rates, August 2021-April 2024
    Headline and food inflation rates, August 2021-April 2024

    Source: FEWS NET using World Bank and TradingEconomics data


    Analysis of key food and income sources

    Crop Production: Due to the drier start of the 2023/24 wet season, the planted area for wheat was initially estimated to be below-average in most parts of the irrigated agricultural lands in southeastern provinces and typical high production areas in northern and northeastern provinces. The favorable precipitation after February 2024, helped support farmers finish their planting to average levels although it was planted late. However, the window for rainfed wheat cultivation was very short and the planted area for rainfed wheat was below-average, mainly in northern and northeastern parts of the country, that typically account for 10 to 15 percent of the overall production. 

    According to FEWS NET field reports, the harvest started on time in eastern and southern parts of the country in early May 2024. Widespread heavy rainfall before the harvesting period in eastern and southern provinces damaged the standing crops and affected the wheat grain quality. The wheat harvest in northern and western provinces is anticipated to be near-to-average levels. Nationally, wheat production is generally expected to be higher than last year due to the replacement of poppy planting with wheat in southern parts of the country, which is contributing significantly to national wheat production. However, the erratic weather and the impact of pests and diseases did likely impact the yield quality. Although the harvest is better than last year, farm gate prices are lower. In Kunduz and Baghlan, for example, wheat prices last year were 20 AFN/kg of wheat, while this year farmers are getting around 16 AFN/kg of wheat due to the lower quality of wheat grain.

    Vegetable production started in April and will continue until late June with near-to-average projected production due to favorable environmental factors in eastern and southeastern parts of the country. However, earnings from vegetable sales are likely to be limited due to low prices driven by the low liquidity among buyers, and the recent decision of the Pakistani government to significantly increase tariffs on imported vegetable and fruits from Afghanistan, which has likely increased prices in Pakistan and led to a decline in income for the vegetable and horticulture producers.

    Horticulture crops (stone fruits, pome fruits) in northern and central provinces were adversely impacted by freezing temperatures during the blooming stage in early January and late February. In particular, the harvest of the stone fruits (cherry and peach) is below average in Badakhshan, Panjsher, Takhar, and Baghlan provinces. Additionally, the upcoming harvest of wall nuts and almonds is also likely to be below-average in Daikundi, Samangan, Uruzgan, Ghazni, and Zabul provinces. 

    Livestock: The favorable precipitation from April to June significantly improved pasture conditions across the county, supporting fodder availability that has positively impacted livestock body conditions and productivity. Herd sizes have also improved compared to last year, but recovery from the recurrent impacts of drought and recent floods will take time. 

    In May, WFP reported that the national average livestock prices seasonally increased between 3 to 5 percent due to higher demand for Eid ul Azha. Livestock prices also significantly increased between 25 to 35 percent in Khost, Uruzgan, Badghis, and Nuristan provinces compared to the three-year average due to the increased demand during Eid ul Azha and improvements in livestock body conditions. 

    Market Supplies: In May 2024, staple food prices in Afghanistan, including wheat grain, wheat flour, sugar, pulses, cooking oil, and rice, continued their stable trend of slight decline that began in mid-2023. These prices experienced a decrease of 3 to 5 percent compared to the previous month, with wheat grain prices specifically decreasing by 9 percent due with the start of the harvest in warmer provinces. The decline in prices for other staple commodities are being driven by various factors, including the initiation of harvesting in warmer climate/lower elevation areas, ongoing deflation, and macroeconomic challenges leading to reduced purchasing power and lower demand as a result of limited employment opportunities and insufficient wages. The consistent importation of food commodities from neighboring countries, such as Kazakhstan, Iran, and Pakistan, remains crucial in ensuring a stable market supply and maintaining price stability. Additionally, the stability of the Afghan Afghani (AFN) against other currencies, particularly the USD, is also supporting the importation of food and goods. These combined factors are leading to the ongoing trend of slight monthly declines in prices and overall price stability for essential food items. 

    The value of the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) food basket, consisting of staple items like wheat flour, cooking oil, rice, and pulses, has consistently declined over the past 11 months (Figures 4 and 5). Compared to the previous month, there has been a 3 percent decrease in FSAC basket prices. The price of the FSAC is also 17 percent lower than last year and the four-year average. The primary driver behind the decline in the cost of the FSAC is the reduction in prices of essential food items (wheat flour, rice, pulses, and vegetable oil) within the basket.

    Figure 4. Trend in mean daily unskilled labor wage and days of work per week, May 2020 - April 2024
    Trend in mean daily unskilled labor wage and days of work per week, May 2020 - April 2024

    Source: FEWS NET using data from WFP

    Figure 5. Trend in monthly cost of the minimum food basket* and share covered by monthly wage
    Trend in mean daily unskilled labor wage and days of work per week, May 2020 - April 2024 (left) and the trend in monthly cost of the minimum food basket* and share covered by monthly wage (right)

    *Food basket based on a typical WFP ration consisting of 2,100 kcals for an average household of 7 people

    Source: Source: FEWS NET using data from WFP

    Casual Labor: Various macroeconomic challenges – including a lack of employment opportunities and income, decreased remittances from Iran, intense labor market competition, the negative impact of consecutive droughts, and a ban on poppy cultivation – are contributing to persistent low availability of wage work opportunities. As a result, wages have largely remained unchanged compared to the previous month, last year, and four-year average (Figure 4). Additionally, work availability in May 2024 was only 2.2 days per week, representing a slight 4 percent increase compared to the previous month but remaining unchanged compared to last year, and only 5 percent higher than the four-year average. Considering the prices of food in the WFP Food basket, a single wage laborer can only afford around 50 percent of the basket items for a household of seven each month.

    Term of Trade: In May 2024, pastoralists experienced a 9 percent improvement in the Pastoralist Term of Trade, with the sale of a female sheep likely to purchase their equivalent of 325 kilograms of wheat. This represents a 39 percent improvement compared to last year and a 42 percent improvement compared to the four-year average. Similarly, unskilled laborers saw an 11 percent improvement in the Real Term of Trade compared to the previous month, acquiring 4.1 kilograms of wheat for one day of work. This reflects a 33 percent improvement compared to last year and a 45 percent improvement compared to the four-year average. The yearly improvements in both trade terms were mainly driven by decreased wheat prices resulting from the start of wheat harvesting in May, while unskilled labor wages remain largely unchanged.

    In May, diesel prices remained stable on a monthly basis, 13 percent lower compared to the same month last year, and 4 percent higher compared to the four-year average. The consistent supply of diesel from Iran and Turkmenistan and the appreciated value of the AFN against the US dollar have contributed to lower prices. Stable diesel prices have also supported the stability of food commodity prices by keeping transportation costs steady.

    In May, the AFN appreciated by 18 percent compared to the same month last year and by 15 percent compared to the four-year average exchange rate. This was due to the continuous injection and auctioning of USD by the central bank, totaling 594 million USD from April 2023 to March 2024. The smooth inflow of USD to UN agencies also contributed to the currency's stability and favorable exchange rate, supporting price stability for imported food commodities. Follow this link for more information on prices in key reference markets.


    Humanitarian food assistance

    Humanitarian food assistance – defined as emergency food assistance (in-kind, cash, or voucher) – may play a key role in mitigating the severity of acute food insecurity outcomes. FEWS NET analysts always incorporate available information on food assistance, with the caveat that information on food assistance is highly variable across geographies and over time. In line with IPC protocols, FEWS NET uses the best available information to assess where food assistance is “significant” (defined by at least 25 percent of households in a given area receiving at least 25 percent of their caloric requirements through food assistance); see report Annex. In addition, FEWS NET conducts deeper analysis of the likely impacts of food assistance on the severity of outcomes, as detailed in FEWS NET’s guidance on Integrating Humanitarian Food Assistance into Scenario Development. Other types of assistance (e.g., livelihoods or nutrition assistance; social safety net programs) are incorporated elsewhere in FEWS NET’s broader analysis, as applicable.

    WFP provided general food assistance and cash-based transfers (including commodity and value vouchers) to around 2.8 million people across the country in May 2024, reaching 69 percent of the planned beneficiaries. Distributions are ongoing in all areas under the May hotspot response, but access issues due to road blockages associated with flood damage in May have caused delays in distribution. Currently, the flood-affected population in the north, northeast, and western parts of the country are the primary objective of humanitarian food assistance distribution. The WFP is currently using available resources to respond to the flood-affected households amidst resource constraints, but this response inevitably diverts attention and resources from existing and already reduced responses elsewhere, including returnees from Pakistan and Iran. Support for resilience and asset creation activities are also ongoing in different parts of the country. 


    Current acute food insecurity outcomes as of June 2023

    Based on the analysis of food security conditions, FEWS NET then assesses the extent to which households are able to meet their minimum caloric needs. This analysis converges evidence of food security conditions with available direct evidence of household-level food consumption and livelihood change; FEWS NET also considers available area-level evidence of nutritional status and mortality, with a focus on assessing if these reflect the physiological impacts of acute food insecurity rather than other non-food-related factors. Ultimately, FEWS NET uses the globally recognized five-phase Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale to classify current acute food insecurity outcomes. In addition, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of ongoing humanitarian food assistance.

    In June, persisting weak economic conditions, coupled with past climate-related shocks are driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in Afghanistan. Despite the positive impacts of the precipitation during the spring in replenishing water reservoirs and the ongoing harvest in improving household access to food, water, and income, the heavy rainfall also resulted in deadly flash floods in northern, northeastern, and western provinces of the country. The destruction of the floods resulted in households losing important assets, such as crops and livestock, with the most affected households in Baghlan, Ghor, Takhar, Badakhshan, and Bamyan provinces. In particular, at least one in five households in the flood-affected provinces of Baghlan and Faryab are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as the flooding destroyed homes, crops, reduced agricultural wages, and limited household access to food. This is further compounded by decreased agricultural wage work availability due to the ban on poppy cultivation and the persistent economics impacts of the previous year's drought.

    In the north and northwest, at least one in five households are in likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the lingering economic impacts of the previous three-year of drought that eroded livelihood assets. Despite good precipitation this year, these households have not been able to fully recover, which was compounded by significant reductions in remittances from Iran an important source of income. 

    In eastern and southeastern provinces, the recent harvests of crops, vegetables, and horticulture production, coupled with relative seasonal improvements and stable income from remittances from Gulf countries, are supporting households in meeting at least their essential food needs, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 

    In higher elevation areas of the country, like Badakhshan, Ghor, Daikundi, Nuristan, and Bamyan, at least one in five households are likely to be engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the longer-term impacts of the past three-year drought that eroded livelihood assets, along with significant reductions in remittances from Iran that are hindering household access to food, income, and general purchasing capacity. However, food access is likely to improve later in the summer, around September, as the harvest begins.

    In urban areas, the negative impacts of economic impediments have led to slower economic growth, resulting in limited income-earning opportunities for casual labor-dependent households. Though the prices of main food commodities continue to decline, purchasing power remains constrained for most of the urban population and households are unable to meet their essential food needs without engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Of particular concern are female-headed, disabled, and jobless former government employees who have limited labor opportunities amidst increased competition for opportunities along with restrictions and bans on working. 


    Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025

    The next step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to develop evidence-based assumptions about factors that affect food security conditions. This includes hazards and anomalies in food security conditions that will affect the evolution of household food and income during the projection period, as well as factors that may affect nutritional status. FEWS NET also develops assumptions on factors that are expected to behave normally. Together, these assumptions underpin the “most likely” scenario. The sequence of making assumptions is important; primary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to weather) must be developed before secondary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to crop or livestock production). Key assumptions that underpin this analysis, and the key sources of evidence used to develop the assumptions, are listed below.

    National assumptions

    • Above-average daily mean temperatures are most likely through at least November 2024. Extreme temperatures during July-September and September-November (exceeding the upper quintile) are two to three-times more likely than climatology. The extreme temperatures may result in moisture stress in rainfed crops and rangelands and reduce water availability, mainly in the downstream areas that may experience extended dry spells.
    • The start of the 2024/25 precipitation season will likely be below-average from October to December due to the return of La Niña.
    • Near- and below-average snow water volumes are expected in the coming months following the late-season precipitation that improved snow depth. Although there is more snow than in 2023 due to above-average precipitation in February, March, April, and May, the above-average temperatures are likely to result in a swift snow melt.​
    • The 2024 national harvest is expected to be at a near-average level, but local variability is expected due to damage from flooding and emerging pests & diseases. The likely success of the coming second cropping season depends on the availability of irrigation water in the summertime.​
    • Due to recent favorable rainfall, cash crop production is anticipated to be at near normal levels, but due to export constraints with neighboring countries, especially Pakistan, income from this source is anticipated to be below average. 
    • Rangeland vegetative conditions are expected to improve and most likely be near or above average in most areas, with some below-average areas due to above-average temperatures and antecedent anomalously low soil moisture. During the summer (June to September), most areas in the north and northeastern provinces will have below average rangeland conditions, due to near- and below-average cumulative 2023/24 precipitation, above-average temperatures, or both.
    • Afghanistan's borders will likely remain open for trade and transit throughout the outlook period. However, ongoing political tension in Iran and Pakistan might disrupt cross-border trade occasionally, especially during harvesting periods of fruits and cash crops. 
    • Economic growth is expected to remain weak throughout the outlook period. Persistently high poverty levels, depressed aggregate demand for locally produced goods, and high unemployment rates are expected to reinforce deflationary pressures. The tight domestic money supply will moderate the continuously high trade deficit, inflows of US dollars through remittances and aid, and the central bank auctions of US dollars will lead to the stability or slight appreciation of the AFN during the outlook period. 
    • Remittances from Iran are anticipated to remain at below average levels, primarily due to forced deportations and limited labor opportunities for Afghan migrants, worsened by ongoing economic sanctions on Iran. Conversely, remittances from Gulf countries and Western nations are expected to remain at near-average levels, supported by stable labor opportunities in those countries. 
    • Continuing from last year, a significant decline in seasonal labor migration to Iran and Pakistan is anticipated. This decline is attributed to ongoing deportations and decreased labor opportunities. Furthermore, the projected resumption of deportations from Pakistan, after a brief pause since the beginning of 2024, is likely to exacerbate the decline in migrant labor opportunities.
    • Livestock prices are expected to increase normally with Eid ul Azaha in June. Favorable pasture conditions are driving better livestock body conditions, leading to higher prices and average income for most livestock owners. 
    • From October 2024 to January 2025, the start of winter wheat planting will take place across the country, improving household access to agricultural labor opportunities. Despite anticipated below-average rainfall due to the forecast La Niña, the area planted to winter wheat is expected to be near average in northern parts of the country and above average in southern and southwestern as households continue to plant wheat instead of poppy.   
    • Recovery from damage caused by extreme weather conditions, such as floods, may cause a delay in planting second season crops which could lead to a delayed second harvest. This would be particularly challenging if the cold wave of the next season arrives before the second harvest in the higher elevation areas of central highlands and Badakhshan Province.

    Humanitarian food assistance

    • The distribution of humanitarian food assistance (HFA) is likely to seasonally decline from July to October 2024 during the harvest and post-harvest period. However, HFA distributions will likely increase from November to January with the start of the winter, subject to funding availability.  
    Table 1
    Key sources of evidence FEWS NET analysts incorporated into the development of the above assumptions 
    Key sources of evidence:
    Weather and flood forecasts produced by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, USGS, the Climate Hazards Center at the University of California Santa Barbara, and NASAGovernment and partner assessments and reports Key informant interviews with local extension officers, humanitarian implementing partners, and community leaders
    FEWS NET rapid field assessment conducted in Baghlan region in May 2024Food Security Agriculture Cluster national and regional updatesWorld Bank economic outlook and macro poverty outlook
    FEWS NET regional supply and market outlookHistorical trend analysis of FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment missionsGovernment and WFP food assistance distribution plans, including analysis of historical trends

    Projected acute food insecurity outcomes through January 2025

    Using the key assumptions that underpin the “most likely” scenario, FEWS NET is then able to project acute food insecurity outcomes by assessing the evolution of households’ ability to meet their minimum caloric needs throughout the projection period. Similar to the analysis of current acute food insecurity outcomes, FEWS NET converges expectations of the likely trajectory of household-level food consumption and livelihood change with area-level nutritional status and mortality. FEWS NET then classifies acute food insecurity outcomes using the IPC scale. Lastly, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate any areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of planned – and likely to be funded and delivered – food assistance. 

    From June to September, food and income access in Afghanistan generally improves supported by the ongoing harvest of wheat , vegetables and fruit in different parts of the country. In eastern, southern, and southeastern parts of the country, the ongoing wheat harvest will improve access to domestically produced food and income from crop sales as household access to food improves supporting Stressed (IPC Phase 2 outcomes).

     However, in northern and western provinces, at least one in five poor households are likely to continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they slowly recover from the multi-year drought that adversely impacted the crop and livestock sector along with localized below-average harvests following the erratic 2023/24 wet season. Additionally, limited labor opportunities are likely to keep household purchasing capacity low as many households remain reliant on food purchases to meet their food needs. 

    In the central highlands and northeastern parts of the country, the typically later start to the harvest relative to other parts of the country and decline in income from remittances will be expected to keep at least 20 percent of households engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through the summer.

    In the provinces affected severely by recent floods, households that loss their crops and livestock are likely to remain reliant on humanitarian food assistance to meet their food needs as they slowly recover their livelihoods. Some of the most affected areas are in Baghlan, Herat, Ghor, and Takhar provinces. Ongoing humanitarian assistance is anticipated to help households mitigate large food consumption gaps, but many of these affected households are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through the projection period. 

    From October 2024 to January 2025, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to emerge in the central highlands following the conclusion of the domestic wheat and potato harvest in these areas around October which will increase household access to food and income, supported by the improvements in livestock productivity over the summer. However, in some provinces, such as Daikundi, at least one in five households will likely continue to be engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) although the number of acutely food-insecure households is expected to decline as a result of the seasonal improvements to food and income over the summer. Savings from the 2024 harvest and improvements in food stocks are expected to support households access to food and income in the November to January period which coincides with the start of the lean season across the country and often a decline in causal labor opportunities, especially central and central highlands provinces. 

    In northern Afghanistan, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge as food stocks from the 2024 harvest decline and households increase their reliance on market purchases amid lower-than-normal purchasing capacity following the decline in remittances from Iran. In these areas, household at least one in five households are likely to begin engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse in order to meet their food needs driven by lower than normal labor opportunities for agricultural production due to the likely below-average start to the 2024/25 precipitation season, and reduced demand for hired labor as less household members migrate to Iran for labor opportunities. 

    In urban areas, the ongoing economic slowdown, high levels of unemployment, and competition over the already limited labor opportunities is expected to keep household purchasing capacity low for most of the casual labor-dependent population, including the recently returned Afghans. However, the recent easing of petty trade taxation policies are likely to marginally improve the private sector's income and improve purchasing capacity for some households. However, female-headed, disabled, and jobless former government employees are likely to continue to have limited labor opportunities amidst increased competition for opportunities along with restrictions and bans on working. 


    Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes

    While FEWS NET’s projections are considered the “most likely” scenario, there is always a degree of uncertainty in the assumptions that underpin the scenario. This means food security conditions and their impacts on acute food security may evolve differently than projected. FEWS NET issues monthly updates to its projections, but decision makers need advance information about this uncertainty and an explanation of why things may turn out differently than projected. As such, the final step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to briefly identify key events that would result in a credible alternative scenario and significantly change the projected outcomes. FEWS NET only considers scenarios that have a reasonable chance of occurrence.

    National 

    Flooding in Pakistan during the June to October monsoon season

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: The June to October period coincides with the harvest of second season crops in Afghanistan. Flooding associated with the monsoon in India and Pakistan would likely increase demand for vegetables and fruit imports from Afghanistan, improving farmer incomes from better prices and increasing sales due to high demand and better access to a larger market. 

    Average precipitation during the October 2024 to January 2025 period

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: An average start to the 2024/25 precipitation season will support the wheat planting process during the October 2024 to January 2025 period, and potentially support snowpack development in the highlands. The average precipitation would improve the likelihood of a better harvest in 2025, improving household access to food and income from agricultural labor opportunities during the harvest. 

    Increase in forced deportations from Pakistan and Iran 

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: A significant increase in returnees would likely further strain already limited casual labor opportunities in urban areas, particularly in the eastern and southern provinces where most returnees are located. A large influx of returnees, similar to what occurred in September 2023, would likely also significantly increase the population in need as returnees slowly try to re-build their livelihoods in Afghanistan. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Afghanistan Food Security Outlook June 2024 - January 2025: The wheat harvest is improving food access, particularly in rural areas, 2024.

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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