FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

SPECIAL ALERT1

NO. 315

8 June 2001

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO AFGHANISTAN

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Mission Highlights

  • Afghanistan faces a much more serious food crisis this year than last year as a consequence of severe drought for the third consecutive year and intensifying economic problems. The food situation is rapidly deteriorating and will continue to worsen as the current marketing year (2001/02) progresses.
  • There is mounting evidence of emerging widespread famine conditions in the country, reflecting substantially reduced food intakes, collapse of the purchasing power of the people, distress sales of livestock, large-scale depletion of personal assets, soaring foodgrain prices, rapidly increasing numbers of destitute people, and ever swelling ranks of refugees and internally displaced persons.
  • With the 2001 drought-affected cereal output forecast at about 2 million tonnes, cereal import requirement will amount to some 2.2 million tonnes, close to last year's unprecedented high level. Even if the planned volume of food aid (386 000 tonnes -) and a low case scenario of projected commercial imports (760 000 tonnes) materialize, there would remain a large uncovered cereal deficit of over 1 million tonnes. Given the scale and magnitude of the food crisis facing Afghanistan, the Mission urges the most urgent international response to cover this large gap to avert an imminent catastrophe.
  • Three consecutive years of drought have dealt a serious blow to livestock in Afghanistan which is in the process of continued decimation with catastrophic livelihood consequences for the Kuchi (nomads) and serious adverse impact on the livestock-holding farmers. Appropriate veterinary and feed-related measures are needed to protect the remaining livestock population and to ensure the survival of the breeding stock for rebuilding the livestock population.
  • About one half of "irrigated" area has gone out of use as a result of breakdown of irrigation systems. Substantial assistance is required to start and carry forward the rehabilitation of the collapsed irrigation infrastructure as well as to improve and expand the provision of quality seeds towards rehabilitating the agricultural sector.
  • With the abandonment of poppy cultivation in 2001, the world is rid of 3 000-4 000 tonnes of opium and derivatives this year. This exceptionally positive development, however, comes at a time when intensifying economic problems provide little opportunities for alternative income sources for poppy farmers and workers, or for support measures by the Authorities. The people of Afghanistan can sustain the negative economic implications only if immediate, commensurate international support is provided.

 

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1. OVERVIEW

Following severe drought in parts of the country in 1999 and countrywide in 2000, Afghanistan has been again hit by a widespread severe drought in 2001. Both rains and snowfall performed extremely poorly throughout the country in the current year, resulting in virtually total failure of rainfed agriculture and substantially reduced irrigated agriculture. The serious food crisis that faced the population in 2000/01 took a further adverse turn in 2001 in view of very poor harvest prospects and continuing deterioration of the purchasing power of increasing numbers of people. It is against this background that an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, supported by UNDP, was fielded in Afghanistan from end-April to end-May, to review the harvest outcome and the food supply outlook and estimate the 2001 cereal harvest and cereal import requirements, including food aid needs, for the 2001/02 marketing year.

The Mission visited 18 provinces in different regions of the country. To support the work of the Mission, FAO and WFP jointly fielded survey teams of national agronomists to collect detailed information on crop production and livestock situation. These teams carried out sample surveys in 28 out of 31 provinces. The Mission also benefited from discussion with UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral donors, Afghan authorities, and many NGOs. Available relevant reports and documents and the satellite SPOT-4 images were reviewed. Area and yield estimates for various crops in different regions were based on field visits involving interviews with farmers and crop cutting where feasible, data generated by survey teams, and discussions with UN and NGO personnel knowledgeable about particular regions and areas.

During its extensive field visits, the Mission observed that rainfed crops (wheat and barley) had almost totally failed, except in a few pockets in different regions. The rainfed wheat production in 2001 is estimated to be about 40 percent less than even last year's extremely low output. The 2001 irrigated cereal production was also, like that of 2000, severely affected by drought. However, given slightly better rainfall in some areas and transfer of land and irrigation water from poppy to wheat, the irrigated wheat production in 2001 is estimated about 14 percent more than in 2000, but still about 25 percent less than in 1999. The production of secondary crops (rice, maize, barley) is estimated to be about 24 percent more than last year's extremely low output, but remains some 42 percent less than in 1999. The Mission thus estimates the 2001 total cereal production at 2.03 million tonnes - about 12 percent larger compared to 2000 but smaller by 37 percent compared to 1999. As a result, the cereal import requirement in the 2001/02 marketing year (July/June) is estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, slightly less than last year's record high level of 2.3 million tonnes, but about double the volume of 1.1 million tonnes in 1999.

Due to loss of revenue receipts of the Taliban Authorities as a result of abandonment of poppy cultivation this year and intensifying economic problems affecting both traders and consumers, Afghanistan's commercial import capacity has further declined this year compared to last year. Nevertheless, a generous estimate of commercial cereal imports of some 760 000 tonnes, about 25 percent lower than the estimate for last year, is made, which still leaves a gap of 1.4 million tonnes. WFP estimates emergency food aid needs at 386 000 tonnes, leaving an uncovered gap of over 1 million tonnes. A shortfall of this magnitude, coupled with seriously deteriorating purchasing power of the population, if unmet, could have disastrous consequences.

Millions of Afghans of all categories - sedentary, transhumant and nomad2 - have little or no access to food through markets due to purchasing power problems, and their access to food through self production has been severely undermined by drought, as well as by the deteriorating irrigation infrastructure and capacity of the farmers to access necessary inputs. Their purchasing power has been seriously eroded by the lack of employment opportunities within and outside agriculture; abandonment of poppy cultivation and decline in other cash crop production such as onions, potatoes, almonds and apricots; and dwindling numbers of livestock along with low livestock prices. A further factor pushing the rural poor into a vicious impoverishment process is rural indebtedness. Rural borrowing from those few who continue to be resourceful entails very high interest rates. The Mission came across examples of 50 percent interest payable in two months. The repayment of the principal and interest increasingly pauperizes the borrowers from year to year, eventually turning them into destitutes.

The overall situation is very grave, with starvation facing of millions of Afghans, most of whom have exhausted most of their coping mechanisms so that the only remaining option for them is to leave home and join the ranks of IDPs or refugees. This alarming situation will continue to deteriorate further as the 2001/02 marketing year progresses. Through its countrywide travel, the Mission found mounting evidence of the prevalence of a large number of pre-famine indicators such as substantially reduced food intakes, collapse of the purchasing power, decimating livestock, large-scale depletion of personal assets, soaring food grain prices, rapidly increasing numbers of destitutes, and ever swelling ranks of IDPs and refugees. The issue of "life saving" in Afghanistan is going to be even more crucial this year than it was last year. In Afghanistan, rains normally start in October/November. Even if precipitation improves in the next season, wheat harvests will not be available until May/June 2001.

It may be stressed that the abandonment of poppy cultivation in 2001, under the orders of the Taliban Authorities, has imposed severe economic hardship on poppy farmers, workers and traders and caused a decline in the tax receipts on poppy production of the Taliban Authorities. Unless people get assistance to have access to food and to find viable alternative economic opportunities, which are becoming increasingly scarce, they may be forced to revert to poppy cultivation. The international community has a major opportunity in ensuring that this very positive development is not reversed.

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2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SETTING3

Afghanistan is a landlocked country of 652 000 square km. It is strategically located, being bounded by the Central Asian Plains and mountains of the CIS countries (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan) to the north, China to the north-east, Pakistan to the east and south, and the Islamic Republic of Iran to the west. Only about 12 percent of the country's total land is arable, with 3 percent under forest cover, about 46 percent under permanent pastures, and the rest (39 percent) being mountains.

Afghanistan's economy is virtually without a direction in the absence of a macro-economic framework. Budgetary operations are defunct, and there are no banks operating in the country. However, there are authorised money changers who provide certain financial services. The exchange rate has been steeply declining. There are two types of Afs - one used in the north and north-east and the other in the rest of the country. The former has declined from about 16 000 Afs to US$1 in 1996 to about 150 000 Afs to US$1 in May 2001 and the latter from about 15 000 Afs in 1996 to about 78 000 Afs in May 2000 (see Figure 1). Domestic trade is operational throughout the country and cross-border trade with neighbouring countries continues to be brisk.

Note: Since 1996 two different exchange rates are used in the country - one in the North/N-E and another in the rest of the country (see text)

The manufacturing and export sectors, virtually destroyed by nearly two decades of civil strife, remain marginal in size and impact. Transportation and communication systems are in extremely poor shape. Agricultural infrastructure, also severely damaged during the civil strife, has generally continued to deteriorate further in the absence of necessary rehabilitation programmes.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Afghanistan's economy. It is the main source of national output and employment. In fact, some 85 percent of the country's estimated 22.23 million people4 are directly dependent on agriculture. But, after registering an appreciable recovery in 1998 in the wake of relative peace in most parts of the country, agriculture has been hit badly by drought for three years running from 1999. While parts of the country were affected by drought in 1999, the whole country has been under its grip last year and this year.

About half of the cultivable area is irrigated, while the other half is arid or rainfed. But, given the destruction or deterioration of irrigation infrastructure, the area under effective irrigation is now substantially lower.

Wheat is the main food crop, accounting for about three quarters of food grain production. Other important food crops include rice, maize and barley. Potatoes and various fruit crops are also produced, both for domestic consumption and as cash crops. Afghan dried fruits (mainly almonds and apricots) accounted for 60 percent of the world market in 1982, but declined to around 16 percent in 1990; the share is much lower now, but the products are still important foreign exchange earners.

At the peak of civil strife in the 1990s, an estimated 30 percent of the population fled the country or became internally displaced (IDPs). With appreciable peace prevailing in most parts of the country, most of the remaining refugees outside the country, as of 1999, were expected to return during 2000. But the drought of 2000, with the consequent severe impact on agriculture and life in general, slowed the process down in a major way. Moreover, many others have left the country in the face of unbearable hardships faced in 2000; and many more are likely to follow suit this year. The ranks of IDPs have been swelling, given the poor and worsening economic conditions in different parts of the country.

The international community remains active in Afghanistan in trying to broker a lasting peace settlement, as well as providing relief, rehabilitation and development (particularly agriculture) assistance. For example, FAO, WFP, UNOPS and UNDCP have been implementing several projects in the agricultural sector; UNHCR is active in assisting refugees; and WFP has been providing emergency relief to people in urgent need of food assistance. But the rehabilitation and development needs are so enormous that the assistance provided meets only a small proportion of those needs. UN/OCHA is preparing a report, due to be issued in June 2001, on the humanitarian implications of the sanctions imposed in Afghanistan, which is expected to reveal the extent of their adverse impact on the country.

Economic implications of the abandonment of poppy cultivation

It is remarkable that poppy cultivation has been abandoned by virtually all concerned Afghan farmers on the orders of the Taliban Authorities. The Mission, through its extensive field visits, observed that there has been no opium production in 2001 in Afghanistan. This development eliminates the source of opium that has been accounting for the larger part of heroin supplies in Europe. Obviously, this is an extremely positive development. The UNDCP, whose principal objective is to strengthen international action against illicit drug production, has been working in Afghanistan to reduce and eventually eliminate existing and potential opium cultivation in the country. But, suddenly, beyond all expectations, the elimination has taken place.

On the other hand, there are serious implications of the abandonment of poppy cultivation for the Afghan economy. Particular interest groups have been hit hard. They are the poppy farmers, workers engaged in harvesting poppy, and the Taliban Authorities who received 10 percent tax on poppy. Poppy has to be harvested in a short period of time, which is also a highly labour intensive process. Hence, labourers are generally engaged for the purpose, and are paid in kind - a proportion of the quantity harvested, usually 25 percent. Had there been no ban, an estimated 80 000 hectares would have been devoted to poppy this year, reaping 45 kg of opium per hectare or a total opium output of 3 600 tonnes (see section 3.5 below).

For harvesting one hectare of poppy, generally 15 workers are engaged for 15 days so that each hectare generates 7.5 man-month of work for the purpose. The total man-months lost due to the abandonment of poppy cultivation in 2001 work out at 600 000. Each worker usually works two to three shifts of 15 days on poppy harvesting during the season, moving from plot to plot or from farm to farm. Assuming that, on average, a worker can work 2.5 shifts of 15 days or 37.5 days during the season, the total number of workers involved is 480 000 ( 15 workers per 80 000 hectares / 2.5 shifts ). The loss of their income has adverse livelihood implications for 2.8 million people (assuming an average family size of six, with one worker per family). In addition, based on an average poppy farm size of 1 hectare, the number of farm families adversely affected is 80 000, with a total population of 480 000.

The UNDCP 2000 survey indicates a farmgate average opium price of US$30/kg for last year, although it was much higher the previous year. Assuming the prevalence this year of last year's average price, each worker, on average, would have earned US$56.255 during the season or US$1.5 per day or afghani117 000/day. The average wage rate in the relevant parts of the country is half of this - if work is found at all. But employment is extremely hard to come by this year so that most of the former workers, the Mission gathered, found no alternative employment opportunities.

The revenue loss of the Taliban Authorities at average farmgate prices would amount to about US$11 million6 - but the Authorities could secure much higher prices from the traders, implying a much greater loss. Other losers include all the people who would have been involved in trading and transporting opium. Clearly, as these various groups have suffered serious economic consequences as a result of the abandonment of poppy cultivation, the country's already tenuous economy has experienced a significant setback.

The pertinent question is whether and for how long this ban can be sustained. A lot depends on how the international community responds to the adverse economic consequences suffered by the farmers, the workers, the Taliban Authorities and the economy in general. People urgently need assistance for rehabilitation and creation of alternative income earning activities. The opportunity must be seized and a possible reversal must be stopped through positive and adequate responses on an urgent basis

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3. FOOD PRODUCTION IN 2000/2001

3.1 Rainfall

This year as reported by almost all recording stations, rainfall performed somewhat better compared to the very poor performance during the 1999/2000 cropping season but has everywhere been well below the long term average (LTA). Precipitation started well and continued at reasonable levels until the end of December but then suddenly declined dramatically and ceased thereafter in most places. This has resulted in a virtual failure of the rainfed wheat and a low yield of the irrigated wheat. Figure 1 shows the 2000/01 rainfall data compared with those of the previous season as well as with the long term averages from four representative stations, located in the eastern, southern, western and northern regions of Afghanistan.

The 2000/01 rainfall levels have been higher by 18 to 58 percent compared to 1999/2000, with a peak of more than four times in Ghazni, but have ranged only between 37 and 58 percent the LTAs. Moreover, the Mazar-i-Sharif meteorological station has recorded a rainfall which is 27 percent less than last year's. In the southern provinces, which had been dramatically hit by last year's drought, rains were more abundant in early autumn but decreased sharply in January. In Qandahar, rains have kept below the LTA and also have been most unevenly distributed.

Spring rains have not been sufficient for plant recovery and, as a consequence and almost universally, the winter rainfed cereals did not have sufficient moisture at crucial stages of plant growth. Also, due to lack of water and moisture in the ground, spring plantings failed to emerge. Useful rains in autumn and winter in some high and flat foothill areas in the western and south-eastern provinces have allowed a limited rainfed production in such areas.

The annual amount of LTA precipitation in the major producing areas of Afghanistan are 152 mm in Jalabad, 190 mm in Mazar, 211 mm in Herat, 280 mm in Baghlan, to 448 mm in Khost. The evapotranspiration values at the same stations are all in the order of 1120 to 1650 mm. The annual distribution of rainfall shows a picture of an essentially arid country where only a limited rainfed production is possible in an average year. The bulk of food (cereal) production does not, therefore, depend on rainfall; it depends on the country's irrigation water which, in turn, rely on the melting snows that feed the river networks. Snow also provides the necessary soil moisture in the rainfed areas. This year, snowfall has performed better than last year, though still below average, on the Hindu Kush heights; but, has been significantly low on all the mountainous areas including and west of the Koh-i-Paghman. This has enabled better feeding of the eastern catchment river system and related irrigation schemes, while has left quite dry almost the entire western drainage basin of the country.

The mildest winter in record has been experienced this year with increases in the minimum temperatures ranging between two to ten degrees Celsius and well above last year's already high values. This has caused once again, accelerated snow melt in the Hindu Kush heights augmenting the water flow of the river systems in the eastern drainage basin at the end of April. The increased availability of irrigation water has been somewhat beneficial for the wheat crop where it was at grain filling stage, resulting in higher yields in the Eastern and Southern provinces.

Figure 2: Rainfall in Different Regions of Afghanistan, 2000/01 Crop Season

3.2 Area Planted

The area planted under cereals is estimated to have decreased by 13 percent compared to 2000. Most affected has been the rainfed wheat - both autumn and spring plantings - posting a dramatic reduction of 26 percent. Also for the secondary cereals (which include winter and spring barley as well as spring and summer maize and rice) cropped area is forecast to decrease by 18 percent. The irrigated wheat planted area decreased by some 3 percent only. Reasons for this year's performance differ from region to region.

Rainfed wheat

The rainfed wheat planted area has decreased. It has not been as bad in the Eastern (Nangahar, Lagman, Konar), Southern (Paktia, Paktika, Khost and Ghazni) and Central (Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Logar and Wardak) provinces; but in terms of rainfed wheat these provinces are considered as minor producers, together accounting for less than 8 percent of the total rainfed wheat cultivated in 1998, the last good agricultural season. This year, these provinces have been able to maintain planted area at last year's reduced levels.

The area planted under rainfed wheat has been found to decrease the most in the Western and North-eastern provinces. In the west (Herat, Badghis, Ghor), rainfed wheat is sown from November through January and also during spring. The failure of rainfall, coupled with severe shortages of seeds (caused by last year's rainfed wheat harvest failure) and farm power, has been responsible for an overall planted area decrease of about 40 percent in this part of the country. In the North-east, shortages of farm power and suitable seeds have further aggravated the already difficult situation of the farmers due to security problems. In other areas of the country, farmers, induced by what was considered as a positive rainy season onset, have tried hard to sow as much as possible. Often, even their efforts and input costs have not been compensated for as the rainfed crop failed completely.

Irrigated wheat

Compared to last year, no change in the irrigated wheat area is reported in the Southern Provinces. The Central Provinces such as Kabul, Logar and Wardak have had the same or slightly decreased (about 3 percent overall) cultivated area under irrigated wheat. An exception has occurred in Bamyan and the more western province of Ghor, where the planted area has decreased very significantly (by 42 percent) due to shortage of irrigation water and security concerns. The Eastern Provinces (Nangahar, Konar, Laghman) have expanded their irrigated wheat area by about 17 percent compared to last year, largely as a result of substitution of poppy by wheat. Analogously, in the South-western Provinces (Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Nimroz and Urozgan) the possible reduction in irrigated wheat area in some of the provinces has been amply counterbalanced by the fields reclaimed to wheat from previously irrigated poppy. A slight decrease in irrigated wheat areas is noted in the Western Provinces (Herat, Farah, Badghis) and in some of the Northern Provinces, but more significant decreases have occurred in the North East. In the West and North, this is mainly due to severe shortage of irrigation water while, in the North-east, security concerns of the farmers in the most frontline areas seem to have been the major reason.

There are also structural reasons behind the reduction of irrigated wheat area. Compared to 1998, for example, there has been an irrigated wheat area decrease of about 6 percent due to breakdown of irrigation facilities. Indeed, Afghanistan's irrigation infrastructure has been deteriorating, even going out of commission, due to lack of maintenance and rehabilitation.

Other cereals

This year water shortages have caused another steep reduction in the area sown to barley (by 30 percent compared to last year and by 57 percent compared to 1998). The area sown to maize is forecast to decrease by 17 percent while the area planted to paddy is estimated to decline by 7 percent, compared to last year. The paddy area is expected to hold at usual levels, notwithstanding the "not to plant" advice (perceived as an order by some) given by the Taliban Authorities in consideration of the severe water shortages expected to continue and worsen as the year progresses.

The details of the Mission estimate of cereal planted area in 2001 are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Afghanistan: Cereal area by region 2001-1998

Region
2001
2000
1999
1998
Area
('000 ha)
Area
comparison
2001/00 (%)
Area
('000 ha)
Area
('000 ha)
Area
('000 ha)
Wheat Irrigated
         
Central
75
97
77
70
69
North-East
173
92
188
200
200
East
77
117
66
72
75
South
95
100
95
92
95
South-West
280
102
274
260
270
West
174
99
176
184
190
North
254
96
265
274
280
East-Central
28
58
48
44
55
Total
1 156
97
1 189
1 196
1 234
Wheat Rainfed
         
Central
3
100
3
5
20
North-East
156
62
250
260
260
East
4
100
4
5
10
South
8
100
8
10
42
South-West
50
91
55
66
90
West
142
65
220
220
230
North
245
94
260
225
250
East-Central
15
38
40
40
50
Total
623
74
840
831
952
All Wheat
1 779
88
2 029
2 027
2 186
Secondary Crops
         
Rice
121
93
130
140
180
Maize
80
83
96
160
200
Barley
87
70
124
180
200
Total
288
82
350
480
580
TOTAL CEREALS
2 067
87
2 379
2 507
2 766

 

3.3 Means of production and inputs

Seeds

Seed, in terms of both overall availability in the rainfed areas stricken by the third consecutive drought and availability of quality improved seeds in the irrigated areas, is recognized to be one of the major constraining factors for wheat production. Afghan farmers apply a wheat seed rate of 110-175 kg per hectare in irrigated conditions and a rate of 80-100 kg per hectare in rainfed cultivation. The overall utilization of seed every year amounts to some 175 000 tonnes and 100 000 tonnes of irrigated and rainfed wheat seed respectively. In terms of improved varieties' seed and considering a replacement every 4 years, the annual requirement would amount to some 70 000 tonnes.

Despite last year's drought, FAO's Food Security through Sustainable Crop Production programme, implemented through a number of local and international NGOs acting as implementing partners, has succeeded this year in supplying some 5 700 tonnes of quality declared wheat seed to farmers. It has also provided 950 tonnes of summer crops seeds - mainly rice, maize and pulses. However, through these programmes, FAO has been able to cover only some 7-8 percent of the needs.

Last year, the Mission expressed concern relating to the availability of rainfed wheat seed for the 2000/01 season. Indeed, this year's drastic reduction of area planted to rainfed wheat should be attributed to a large extent to seed availability limitations. The Mission reiterates the concern for the next planting season and considers the seed situation worse than last year due to failure of the rainfed crop. If the farmers are not assisted with seed, there would be a further contraction of the rainfed planted area (virtually annihilating the rainfed wheat production independently from the weather situation) with drastic consequences relating to the livelihoods of the population living in such areas. The Mission recommends that the international community strengthen and enlarge the Food Security through Sustainable Crop Production Programme being implemented by FAO.

Fertilizer and Pesticides

The bulk of the fertilizer requirements of the country (the N requirements are estimated at some 500 000 tonnes of Urea equivalent) are covered by imports mainly from Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkmenistan. The fertilizer factory in Mazar-i-Sharif has an annual production capacity of 105 000 tonnes of Urea from natural gas. At present, the factory is reportedly operating at 70 percent of its capacity.

Availability of fertilizers in the market (Urea, DAP and SSP/TSP, the main mineral fertilizers used) was universally reported to be good. And normally, application rates of nitrogen for properly irrigated wheat crops were close to the recommended levels of 100 kg/ha. Due to the continuing drought since 1999, demand for fertilizers has been decreasing.

This year there has been a further and significant reduction of fertilizer use in many areas. The limited ability of the impoverished farmers to use fertilizer has been exacerbated by their indebtedness. This is particularly true in some ex-poppy areas where, due to their decreased purchasing power, farmers have relied this year only on the residual fertility of the soils. The purchasing power of farmers will likely worsen next year and, hence, even if weather conditions improve, the farmers' ability to apply fertilizer will be seriously constrained. Thus, the negative soil fertility trend that has commenced is likely to continue unabated and nutrient mining will become apparent.

Farm Power

The Agricultural Survey of Afghanistan conducted by the Swedish Committee in 1989 found that the use of tractors had increased dramatically during war time. Whereas before the war more than 90 percent of farmers used their own oxen for ploughing, in 1987 the proportion was down to only 43 percent of the farmers who remained in the country. In recent times, the land preparation operations in irrigated areas are executed, by and large, using hired tractors. Farmers integrate the mechanical operations with the use of their draught animals, which remain the main power source in the rainfed areas. However, the limited availability of tractors in the country and the peak demand at wheat pre-planting time has resulted over the years in an excessive speeding-up of operations and in poor tillage practices. The universally utilized implement is a nine rigid tine cultivator which operates at limited depths and does not allow for proper soil water retention capacity amelioration nor for the destruction of weed propagation material.

This year, it has been reported that, on the one hand, the worsened economic conditions of the farmers have reduced their tractor hiring capacity and, on the other, poor farmers, particularly in the rainfed areas, sold out their draught animals in order to cope with the second crop failure in a row towards meeting their food requirements.

Irrigation

According to FAO's Land Cover Atlas of Afghanistan and to its AQUASTAT data, the equipped annual irrigated land amounts to some 2.5 million hectares. An estimated 30 percent of all irrigation systems is considered to have been directly affected by the war. Taking into account the effects of abandonment, neglect and lack of maintenance, it is estimated that another 15 to 20 percent of the irrigation infrastructure is at present unavailable for cropping purposes. Hence, the actual irrigated land amounts to 1.2-1.3 million ha and every year this area decreases. Canal systems convey some 80-85 percent of the irrigation water, while the remaining 15-20 percent is fed by the traditional karezes, springs, and wells. By and large, the karez irrigated area has suffered more and an estimated 60 to 70 percent of it is not in use. Also the canal irrigation systems are in need of extensive rehabilitation. Should the next cropping season benefit from good precipitation and water availability, the presently available irrigated lands and the rainfed cultivated areas (estimated to be 0.9-1.0 million ha, i.e. half the potential due to security concerns and the economic situation of the farmers) would not be able to produce enough to meet the population's food requirements.

Wells, as a source of irrigation water, are becoming increasingly important, particularly in the south western provinces of the country. Water table has been reported to be dropping in recent years by 1 to 3 metres per year in some specific tubewell areas. However, the still limited utilization of the groundwater throughout Afghanistan should not generate real concern about water table dropping too deep due to exploitation. Nevertheless, increasing utilization of groundwater in some provinces and insufficient recharge occurring in recent years suggest a precautionary approach to further groundwater utilization. An updated inventory of the water resources of the country and a plan for their sustainable utilization are clearly called for.

The efforts of the international community through UNOPS for the rehabilitation of the infrastructure has succeeded in restoring irrigation facilities for some 50 000 ha. Much remains to be done towards rehabilitation of the canal irrigation infrastructures as well as in terms of cleaning and clearing stones and sediments accumulated over the years in the karezes which are the sole source of irrigation water in areas far from rivers. Unfortunately, due to reduced funds, UNOPS activities are slowing down. Identified rehabilitation works in terms of intake construction, canal remodelling, community desiltation works that would bring back to irrigation some 100 000 hectares only in the South Western provinces and which would facilitate the return of refugees and IDPs, are waiting for the international aid community's financial support for their implementation. Moreover, several sites have been identified for the construction of check dams in the catchment areas which would permit and enhance Karez and well water recharge. Development schemes have been promoted and agreed with communities including establishment of revolving funds (Baital Mal) for facilitation of income generating activities. These schemes have been included in the Poverty Eradication And Community Empowerment (PEACE) programme. But, the new phase of the PEACE programme is poorly funded - it has attracted contributions amounting to only about one-quarter of that of the earlier phase.

3.4 Cereal Yield and Production

Wheat: this year the production of the irrigated wheat crop is expected to be 1.514 million tonnes, about 14 percent more than the low output of 1.329 million tonnes produced in 2000. Irrigated wheat has performed better in all the eastern catchment areas from north-east to south-east, including some central Provinces. In these areas a somewhat better rainfall and snowfall and, consequently, the water flows in the irrigation systems, have provided some succour to wheat production. The worst yields, which are lower than the already very low yields of 2000, have been found in the North and north-western Provinces. The north-western provinces are the most severely drought affected parts of the country this year. The reduced production is entirely to be attributed to the insufficient irrigation water available to the plant at its most crucial stages (tillering, head development, flowering and early yield formation). The Mission observed in the western provinces - particularly in Herat - completely dry rivers. Irrigation was possible in those areas where springs were the sources of the river waters. In other western provinces (e.g. Badghis), irrigated wheat has performed slightly better than last year. However, due to the farming systems practised in these areas, the rainfed wheat crop is more important; the irrigated portion of an average farmer's total cultivable area is relatively small. Thus, the improved performance of the limited irrigated wheat cannot compensate for the loss of the rainfed wheat production. In the south-western basin, where the Helmand river feeds the irrigation system, the Mission observed the irrigated wheat crop performing somewhat better compared to last year. Here, the best irrigated lands used to be devoted to poppy cultivation and this year they have been planted under wheat. Yield estimations have been confirmed by crop cutting exercises in various locations.

As a result of rains performing poorly or not at all, there has been an almost complete countrywide failure of rainfed wheat production. This year's production of rainfed wheat is estimated at 83 000 tonnes, down by 41 percent from last year's extremely low output. As observed by the Mission, particularly in the major rainfed producing areas wherever there has been some vegetative growth, tillering was extremely low (2-3 tillers), heading was very limited and the ripe spikes had few and small grains. The total absence of rains during spring which is the most water sensitive period for the wheat crop has offset the favourable impact of the somewhat good autumn rains. Overall, rainfed wheat yields are comparable to the poor yields of 2000. Some small improvements, occurring in higher and flat areas which have better retention capacity are of little consequence in the overall context.

Severe weed infestations (wild oat, rye, reeds, etc.) have become more widespread year by year and are now almost universally manifest in wheat fields everywhere. Farmers are unable to tackle the problem through mechanized and manual control and the adverse impact of the weeds on wheat yield has become significant. Weed coverage of 50-60 percent of the cultivated fields were observed by the Mission in many locations. Continuous use of low quality seed, poor land preparation and, most of all, absence of crop rotation are the reasons behind the aggravating infestations.

No outbreaks of common pest infestations were reported. However, locust attacks were observed in western Baghlan and partially in east Samangan irrigated areas damaging some 40 percent of the wheat production in those areas. Sunn pest and rust were noticed in certain areas but their impact has been negligible. Locust has also contributed to aggravating the drought affect in the rainfed areas of the northern Provinces. Due to lack of funds, the FAO project was not able, unlike in the past, to control locust egg beds in the desert areas during winter. The attempted adult stage control, through WFP Food-for-Work proved somewhat late and less effective. The Mission observed in Baghlan the use of expired Methyl Parathion by farmers.

Rice, Maize and Barley: The expected rice output is 182 000 tonnes, about 16 percent up in comparison with the 2000 production due to the greater share of water resources available to paddy area. This year's maize output is forecast at 160 000 tonnes, 39 percent up compared to last year. Despite water shortages and the advice of the authorities to devote smaller areas to rice, it has been apparent to the Mission that farmers' preference for the rice production will remain strong as rice, being a semi-cash crop, is mostly sold by farmers and not retained for self-consumption. Based on direct field observations the Mission estimates an overall barley output increase of 17 percent compared to last year due to an augmented irrigation coverage of the crop.

The details of the forecast of cereal production in 2001 and the comparative outputs in 1998, 1999 and 2000 are shown in Table 2. Figure 3 shows the trends in cereal production from 1988 to 2001.

Table 2 - Afghanistan: Yield and Production of Cereals by Region, 2001-1998

REGION 
2001
2000
1999
1998
Yield (tonnes/ha)
Production
('000tonnes)
Production
comparison
2001/00 (%)
Yield (tonnes/ha)
Production
('000tonnes)
Yield (tonnes/ha)
Production
('000tonnes)
Yield (tonnes/ha)
Production
('000tonnes)
Wheat Irrigated
                 
Central
1.52
114
118
1.25
96
1.60
112
1.7
117
North-East
1.49
258
125
1.10
207
1.60
320
1.6
320
East
2.15
166
139
1.80
119
2.10
151
1.7
128
South
1.57
149
174
0.90
86
1.40
129
1.5
143
South-West
1.40
392
130
1.10
301
1.90
494
1.7
459
West
1.10
184
105
1.00
176
1.90
350
1.9
361
North
0.93
236
81
1.10
292
1.40
384
1.5
420
East-Central
0.53
15
28
1.10
53
1.10
48
1.3
72
Total
 
1 514
114
 
1 329
1.66
1 988
 
2 020
Wheat Rainfed
                 
Central
0.20
1
100
0.20
1
0.20
1
0.9
18
North-East
0.20
31
62
0.20
50
0.50
130
0.7
182
East
0.50
2
167
0.30
1
0.40
2
0.9
9
South
0.15
1
150
0.10
1
0.40
4
0.8
34
South-West
0.10
5
91
0.10
6
0.50
33
0.9
81
West
0.10
14
65
0.10
22
0.80
176
1
230
North
0.10
25
47
0.20
52
0.70
158
0.9
225
East-Central
0.30
5
56
0.20
8
0.20
8
0.7
35
Total
 
83
59
 
140
 
512
 
814
All Wheat
 
1 597
109
 
1 469
 
2 499
 
2 834
Secondary Crops
                 
Rice
1.50
182
116
1.20
156
2.00
280
2.5
450
Maize
2.00
160
139
1.20
115
1.50
240
1.65
330
Barley
1.00
87
117
0.60
74
1.20
216
1.2
240
Total
 
429
124
 
346
 
736
 
1 020
TOTAL CEREALS
 
2 026
112
 
1 815
 
3 236
 
3 854

Note: Totals, yields and percentages computed from unrounded data.

3.5 Other Crops

Vegetables and spices: Some 6 percent of the irrigated area is planted with vegetable crops. Melon, water melon, onion, potato and tomato cover 90 percent of the vegetable area in Afghanistan. The cropped area has somewhat increased due to farmers' cropping preference for more remunerative cash crops and as a coping strategy in terms of alternative crops to poppy, such as cumin (particularly in Zabul province in the south west). Nevertheless, due to water shortages, only a limited number of farmers who have access to secure irrigation systems (wells) have been able to grow vegetable and spice crops profitably. Overall, the estimated vegetable cropped area is still down by some 20 percent compared to 1998 level. Compared to 2000 though, this year's production is estimated to increase by some 50 percent.

Fruit: The horticultural area with various fruit trees has been estimated to cover around 10 percent the overall irrigated area. Grapes, almonds, apricots, pomegranate and apple trees cover 87 percent of the area cropped under fruits. The Mission observed in the major fruit producing areas that the tree crops were better performing compared to last year, although still suffering from water shortages. No capital loss in terms of plantation drying is foreseen but production will still be low with small sized fruits.

Poppy: According to UNDCP an estimated 82 000 ha was devoted to opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan during the 1999/00 season. This area yielded 3 276 tonnes of opium in 2000. Helmand province cultivated 42 800 ha i.e. 52 percent of the entire poppy cropped area, followed by Nangarhar with 19 700 ha (24 percent); the remaining area is in other provinces of the south western and eastern regions and in the north-north eastern regions. This year a Taliban edict issued on 27 July 2000 for a total ban on poppy cultivation, has been universally enforced. The Mission has travelled extensively throughout the country, including all major poppy growing areas, and did not observe a single poppy field. Some 75 percent of the poppy area has been substituted by wheat and only partially by vegetables and other cash crops. Should the ban not have been issued, the Mission estimates (on the basis of interviews with former poppy growers) that the poppy area would have been about the same as that of last year (say 80 000 hectares) due to critical cash needs of the farmers (not only for repaying debts and other economic and social reasons, but also for buying inputs for wheat cultivation). The yield would probably have been higher compared to last year's very low estimate of 40kg/ha, but perhaps lower than that achieved in 1999. An assumption that a yield rate of 45kg/ha would have materialized this year seems reasonable. For an assessment of the economic impact of the abandonment of the poppy cultivation, see section 2 above.

3.6 Pastures and Livestock

Prior to 1988 the livestock sub-sector was responsible for up to 40 percent of the total export earning of the country. The livestock-dependent population includes sedentary farmers and the nomadic Kuchi who traditionally move their stock along traditional routes between winter and summer pastures.

Like other sectors of the Afghan economy, the livestock sector was also devastated during the long drawn out war and civil strife. This sector has, however, tended to be quite resilient. With appreciable peace returning to most parts of the country, the rebuilding of the livestock sector made significant headway. This is demonstrated by a comparison of the livestock headcount data of 1995 and 1997/98 (Table 3), both conducted by FAO. It is known that this rebuilding process continued until the drought started in May 1999. Since then, the livestock population has suffered very substantial depletion as a consequence of the destruction of pasture and water shortages leading to animal deaths, crisis sale for slaughter within the country or for exports abroad, mainly Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and low reproduction/replacement rates.

Table 3. Afghanistan: Livestock Numbers, 1995 and 1997/98

   
1995
1997/98
Sedentary
Kuchi
Total
Sedentary
Kuchi
Total
Cattle
1 916 459  
178 099  
2 094 558  
2 924 932  
83 396  
3 008 328  
Sheep
6 438 399  
6 129 787  
12 568 186  
8 419 554  
7 832 054  
16 251 608  
Goat
2 897 214  
2 491 880  
5 389 094  
4 648 887  
1 950 571  
6 599 458  
Camel
62 233  
170 918  
233 151  
74 880  
187 710  
262 590  
Poultry
6 067 140  
534 819  
6 601 959  
7 448 820  
379 421  
7 828 241  


Source
: FAO Livestock Development for Food Security in Afghanistan)

The FAO Programme that was responsible for the two above mentioned livestock headcount surveys has estimated that by May 2001 the total livestock population of Afghanistan has decreased by about 40 percent compared to 1998. During its extensive field visits in the country, the Mission was apprised of a wide range of livestock depletion in different areas by different categories of livestock holders. An overall depletion of 40 percent appears to be a reasonable working figure. Another headcount is necessary to establish a more definitive number for the currently existing livestock affected by continuing severe drought.

The Kuchi, who used to keep more than a third of the total national herd of the country, have suffered the largest losses. The tragedy of the Kuchi, similar to that of other nomads and pastoralists, cannot be reckoned in terms of human suffering only and it cannot be adequately expressed in monetary terms. A complete way of life for these people is under threat.

Not many Afghans have "migrated" or are "migrating" to Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran taking their remaining livestock with them. Most of the livestock is owned by the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population who cannot pay even for their own travel. It is the middlemen and traders who buy livestock and draught animals cheaply in Afghanistan and send them to Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, earning lucrative profits.

3.6.1 Effect of drought on livestock

i. Lack of grazing

The continuing drought since 1999 has been very detrimental to the pastureland. Most of the Afghanis associate the drought primarily with lack of pasture for their animals. A combination of a lack of grazing, the disruption of the traditional grazing routes of the Kuchi due to hostilities, and the shortage of veterinary services has been having a severe adverse impact on livestock, not only for the Kuchi but also for the farmers most of whom keep livestock.

The majority of the Kuchi families of Afghanistan live in eight provinces of the country. These cover almost half the area of Afghanistan, which has been badly hit by the drought. The eight provinces form a crescent around the mountainous summer pasture from the southwest, south, southeast and east.

The worst affected provinces and their districts are: HERAT (districts:Gulran, Ghorian, Koshan, Koshk, Zanda-Jan, Adreskan); FARAH (Khak-e-Safis, Bakwa, Pusht-Rud, Lash-Joyn, Qala-e-kah); NIMROZ (Chakhansur, Kang, Khash Rod); HELMAND (Sarban Qala, Gershk, Marja, Bust, Garmser, Kajaki); KANDAHAR (Daman, Kharez, Spin-boldk, Arghistan, Marouf, Ragistan); ZABUL (Atghar, Shinky, Shamalazi, Seuri, Shahjoi, Naw-bahar); GHANZI (Gilan, Qara-bagh, Muqur, Nawar, Malistan); WARDAK (Dimirdad, Jaghatu, Sayedabad).

ii. Animal Diseases.

The reports of the Veterinary Field Units (VFU) which are compiled by FAO/UNDP Afghanistan PEACE Initiative indicate that Pest Des Petits Ruminants (PPR) is widespread in the country. The entire flocks may be affected by a PPR outbreak with between 20 and 50 percent dying. This disease needs special attention as it may pass unrecognised for years being frequently confused with other diseases that cause respiratory problems and mortality of small ruminants. PPR may cause abortion in pregnant animals.

Anthrax, sheep pox, enterotoxaemia and endoparasites have also been widely reported. An affluent Kuchi, interviewed by the Mission in north Herat, kept 800 head of sheep and goats and had six tents, but his herd produced only 200 lambs because of the poor health of the flocks. Very low conception rates were reported by both Kuchi and farmers.

All the Kuchi and farmers interviewed and asked about their needs said without exception that vaccines for their livestock were their most urgent requirement. The Mission was told repeatedly by farmers and Kuchi that they cannot afford to pay even amounts as low as 2 000 Afs for a dose of anthrax vaccine, (US$1=78 000 Afs). Most Kuchi and the farmers are familiar with the varieties of veterinary drugs and vaccines; they even show a remarkable and justified preference for certain brands of vaccines.

iii. Livestock Migration

Afghanistan's summer grazing lands cover the highlands and mountainous areas in the centre of the country, including Bamyan, Ghour, the eastern parts of Badghis and Herat and the north west of Ghanzi. To reach the grazing areas Kuchi from Kandahar and Helmand move north, those from Farah move northeast, Herat and Badghis Kuchi move west, while the Jozian and Faryab Kuchi move southwards.

The Kuchi move to the summer pasture in March (Newroz) and return in late September to their winter residences. The shortage of pasture in the central grazing land due to drought has resulted in competition for the meagre grazing between the farmers' stock and the ever increasing herds of the Kuchi. The traditional movement of the nomads has continued for centuries and obviously the settlers accepted them even if they were ethnically different. However, the serious competition for grazing emerging now is bringing to the fore the ethnic tensions of the nomads and the settlers, preventing the Kuchi from going to their traditional summer pastures.

The distinctive black goat hair tents of the Kuchi were seen by the Mission in the vicinity of the villages and agriculture settlements all across the traditional routes of their migration but away from the summer grazing lands. They are stranded and their animals are not allowed to graze on the local farmers' lands. Their herds have been drastically reduced and some have lost their entire herds. Gathering weeds and grass in the vicinity of the tents to feed the animals occupies the women and children, while the Kuchi men work as farm labourers or join the Food-for-Work programme. Many have deposited their belongings with relatives and moved to IDP camps or across the border to live in the refugee camps. The Mission observed Kuchi tents (made of rags and food aid sacks) along the entire route from Khandahar to the border with Pakistan and even along the road to Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province of Pakistan. There are other minor migration routes used by distressed nomads in the east of the country.

iv. Sale of Livestock

As a response to the high mortality rates and decreased pasture, the livestock owners are selling their stock, so depressing the market. The prevailing market prices of this year are, on average, 30 percent lower compared to last year. The exchange rate has also declined steeply in the last year, so this in real terms makes the decline in price even more steep.

The sale of oxen is a serious problem for the farmers of Afghanistan as it deprives them of draught power and breeding males. This problem needs special attention as even if the drought ends soon, the recovery process will not be possible with no draught animals and males for breeding. The Mission found a local community that used to have 180 pairs of oxen but now are left with only nine pairs. The problem is indeed very serious.

v. Veterinary services

Most of the essential animal health services, including vaccination, used to be provided by more than 220 FAO/VFUs (Veterinary Field Units) employing over 650 veterinarians, veterinary auxiliaries and Primary Animal Health Workers. In 1994 UNDP amalgamated two separate animal projects under FAO implementation, keeping the community-based focus for the delivery of animal health services on a privatised and self-sustaining basis. The shortage of funds and the inability of the Kuchi and the farmers to pay for the subsidised vaccines reduced the activity of the project. The Mission was informed that up to 1.5 million doses, of desperately needed vaccines are available in the three main centres for the project, namely Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar. But the Kuchi and farmers are unable to access these vaccines due to purchasing power problems.

vi. Animal protein availability

The price of mutton and beef are significantly down this year compared to last year. In Heart, a quick survey in the market revealed that the price of 1 kg of beef was 60 000 Afs and mutton was 80 000 Afs, while last year's prices were 75 000 Afs for beef and 110 000 Afs for mutton. On the other hand the price of thick yoghurt (mast) which is a staple diet in Afghanistan, and used by diluting it with two volumes of water to form "dookh", has increased markedly. A 4 kg container of mast was 80 000 Afs in both Khandahar and Heart but last year the same container cost only 35 000 Afs. An egg costs 3 500 Afs and is an expensive item for the average Afghan.

3.6.2 Measures to assist livestock owners

New drought management policies and measurements, for livestock, have been developed for many countries in the semi-arid and arid areas of the world. Unfortunately these cannot be successfully applied in Afghanistan for a variety of reasons. Apart from the drought, the prolonged war and civil strife and a lack of roads to reach the affected areas, especially the larger provinces of Afghanistan where the Kuchi are thinly distributed, need to be taken into account.

In the current juncture in Afghanistan, ensuring the survival of the breeding stock would be a better course to follow rather than having to buy replacements. If breeding stock can be saved through feeding and veterinary care, then replacement can be generated in time from within the communities when normal rainfall returns. However, the following measures may be taken to prevent further deterioration in the condition of the remaining livestock:

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4. SITUATION BY REGION

North (Faryab, Jaozjan, Saripul, Balkh, Samangan) and North-East (Baglan, Kunduz, Takar, Badakhshan)

In the north-east the cultivable area has been further limited this year, both because of drought as well as security problems.

Rainfed wheat area has decreased by 21 percent (from 510 000 ha to 401 000 ha) mainly in the north eastern provinces, while the production has dropped by 45 percent compared to 2000 and by a dramatic 80 percent compared to 1999. High expectations, given good rains starting in autumn and the low production experienced in the previous year, induced farmers to keep up their rainfed winter wheat plantations. Cessation of rainfall caused spring wheat sowing interruption and an extremely low rainfed cereal yield. The standing crop is mostly left for livestock grazing and wherever a meagre harvesting is undertaken, the grain is of such low quality that is neither fit for next season planting nor for human consumption.

The region is by and large irrigated through river fed canal schemes. Extensive intermittent irrigation is practised with low volumes of water, leaving large fallow areas in rotation every two to three years in the provinces towards west. The river system depends on the melting snow in a mountainous catchment with minor heights, compared to the more eastern provinces (from Baghlan to Badakhshan) depending on the Hindu Kush. The low snowfall pattern and the snowfall differentiation among catchments are clearly reflected in the irrigated wheat production levels. Crop husbandry and farmers' overall economic conditions are among the poorest in the country, resulting in low input use and inadequate means of production and, thus, in mediocre yields even in normal years. In comparison with 2000, irrigated wheat planted area is estimated to have dropped by 6 percent, while production has decreased only by about one percent due to the relatively better performance of the irrigated wheat crop in the north eastern provinces.

West (Herat, Farah, Badghis)

The western region together with the north and north-eastern regions have the largest share of the rainfed cultivated area. Dryland wheat area has decreased by 35 percent compared to last year and the production dropped by 36 percent. This further reduction in yield consequent upon the planted area contraction has brought the overall production down by a drastic 94 percent compared to 1998. The irrigated area has slightly dropped (-1 percent) but yielded about 5 percent better the production of last year. The improved performance of the irrigated wheat in Herat and Badghis has been brought about by dedicated efforts of the farmers who will rely this year only on this crop for their food requirements. Nevertheless, this year's yield is still half of what this area could produce under normal circumstances.

East Central (Ghor, Bamyan), Central (Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Logar, Wardak) and South (Paktia,Paktika, Khost and Ghazni)

Irrigated planted wheat area has significantly decreased in Ghor and Bamyan due to security concerns of the farmers as well as for further breakdown of the irrigation infrastructure. In the central provinces there has been only a slight decrease in the irrigated area (-3 percent), and the failed winter plantings have partially been compensated by increased sowing during spring when the farmers benefited from availability of some irrigation water. In the South the irrigated area remained more or less the same. Overall, the irrigated wheat production in the South and in some central provinces is estimated at about 44 percent more than in last year due to increased availability of water in the eastern catchment of the country. In the southern provinces, another factor causing increased availability of water is substitution of `karezes' by wells in many areas.

East (Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar)

The irrigated cropped area has increased by about 17 percent mainly due to poppy to wheat substitution in Nangahar province. The overall wheat production has increased significantly (+39 percent). The canal irrigation schemes are fed by the river system, which benefited from better snowfall. Moreover, improved husbandry and means previously available to poppy have been devoted to wheat and vegetables.

South West (Qandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Nimroz, Urozgan)

An increase in irrigated wheat area (+2 percent) is to be attributed to substitution from poppy to wheat land. Similar land substitution has also occurred in favour of other cash crops (onion, potato and water melon). At the regional level, the increase does not appear to be as significant as one would have expected. Indeed, 40 000 ha previously under poppy in Helmand, has been mostly devoted to wheat this year. But, reportedly, there has been a reduction of wheat irrigated area in other provinces of the region such as Zabul, Qandahar and Urozgan due to more severe water shortages in those areas and collapse of more karezes. However, given the good performance of irrigated wheat in Helmand, the wheat production in this region has improved by about 30 percent compared to last year, but still remains about 20 per cent less than in 1999.

-------

5. CEREAL SUPPLY/DEMAND SITUATION, 2001/02

The cereal balance sheet for 2001/02 (Table 4) is based on the following assumptions:

Table 4 - Afghanistan: Cereal Balance Sheet, 2001/02 ('000 tonnes)

 
Wheat
Rice
(milled)
Maize
Barley
Total
Domestic availability
1 598
122
160
87
1 967
Stock drawdown
-
-
-
-
-
Domestic production
1 598
122
160
87
1 967
Total utilisation
3 654
244
160
87
4 145
Food use (required)
3 201
222
89
44
3 556
Animal feed (available)
-
-
48
18
66
Seed (provision)
275
13
7
16
311
Losses (to be sustained)
178
9
16
9
212
Import Requirements
2 056
122
-
-
2 178
Commercial import capacity*
720
40
-
-
760
Food aid (planned by WFP)
386
-
-
-
386
Uncovered deficit
950
82
-
-
1 032

Note
: paddy has been converted to rice at a conversion rate of 67 percent ;
* commercial imports conservative estimate based on low case scenario

The total cereal import requirement in 2001/02 is estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, slightly lower (by 4 percent) than last year's estimated requirement. Also, WFP's planned food aid in 2001/02 amounts to 386 000 tonnes, 70 percent higher compared to last year. Yet, the uncovered deficit in 2001/02 is still over 1 million tonnes. The United States announced on 17 May a US$43 million humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, including 65 000 tonnes of wheat. This will reduce the uncovered deficit but only to just under 1 million tonnes.

The food availability and access have both deteriorated fast over the past two years, with drought being the major factor. The coping mechanisms of a continuously impoverishing population have mostly been exhausted. The situation will further worsen as the 2001/02 marketing year progresses. For millions of Afghans, the only remaining option is to leave their homes and join the ranks of IDPs or refugees. Even this option is not available to many, as they do not have the means of meeting the transport costs. The Mission has observed that, in certain parts of the country, near-famine conditions have already developed, given three consecutive years of crop failures, non-existence of employment opportunities, and exhaustion of all coping mechanisms. Similar situations are in the making in many other areas. Unless adequate preventive steps are taken on an urgent basis, widespread famine affecting all categories of Afghans - sedentary, transhumant and nomad (Kuchi) - seems inevitable in the country in the coming months. Even if rains and snowfall perform reasonably well in the next season (starting in October/November 2001), the next wheat crop will not be available until May/June 2002.

The cereal surplus/deficit situation by region is given in Table 5 below.

Table 5 - Afghanistan - Cereal surplus/deficits by region (in tonnes), 2001/02

Region
Population
Cereal production*
Non-food use
Cereals
available for
consumption
Consumption
requirements
Surplus/
deficit
Production/ Consumption
ratio (%)
Central
4 901 055
114 600
32 335
82 265
784 169
-701 904
15
North-East
3 445 064
418 529
128 539
289 990
551 210
-261 220
76
East
2 176 574
289 252
96 715
192 537
348 252
-155 715
83
South
2 262 757
156 017
44 413
111 604
362 041
-250 437
43
South-West
3 017 888
397 000
112 016
284 984
482 862
-197 878
82
West
2 060 776
217 776
62 376
155 400
329 724
-174 324
66
North
3 354 233
355 323
107 757
247 566
536 677
-289 111
66
East-Central
1 010 153
19 340
5 457
13 883
161 625
-147 742
12
Totals
22 228 500
1 967 837
589 608
1 378 229
3 556 560
-2 178 331
55

*Paddy converted to rice
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6. FOOD AID REQUIREMENTS FOR 2001/02

6.1 Justification for international food assistance

The food security situation in Afghanistan will continue to deteriorate over the coming year. Access to food will continue to be severely restricted for up to 5 million poor Afghans as many people are once again confronted with reduced levels of production, low or, in some extremely hard hit areas, no purchasing power at all, exhaustion of coping mechanisms as productive assets such as livestock have been sold off, and total abandonment of the poppy culture (an estimated 80 000 farmers have no poppy to sell, no cash-on-hand, no assets against which to borrow and debts to repay). Food availability is also expected to be an extremely serious issue this year in light of the decreased commercial import capacity and drought in neighbouring countries. In areas such as Faryab province in northern Afghanistan and the western provinces of Badghis and Ghor, the poorest have resorted to the consumption of wild grasses. Their livelihoods are destroyed. They have no options. Near famine conditions are being reported. And, as compared to last year, the crisis is widespread. Virtually the entire country is affected, with the exception of certain eastern provinces. Many of the most severely impacted areas are in remote locations, which are difficult to access.

The country is immersed in a long-term crisis. Emergency food aid will have to be provided at least up until next year's harvest in order to prevent starvation and try and reduce the steady flow of out-migration. The next harvest will be in May/June 2002, but its success will depend on climatic conditions, seed and fertilizer availability, farm power etc. Up until the next harvest, emergency food aid is required to :

Over the longer term, assistance will also be needed to :

6.2 Targeting of food assistance

Geographical targeting

The western basin is more seriously affected by the drought than the Eastern one. In the North, the entire rainfed area is affected, only limited production can be expected in the higher altitude areas. In the West and the North West, the irrigated area is also seriously affected. A number of the flood-irrigated areas were without a single irrigation this year. Villages relying only on rainfed production must be targeted, and, in addition, those in the North West that rely on a combination of rainfed and irrigated production.

All the kareze-irrigated areas are also extremely affected and should be targeted. This concerns the western provinces of Herat and Farah, the south-western provinces of Nimroz, Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Zabul, Ghazni and Paktia, as well as the southern provinces of Ghazni and Paktia. WFP will also have to target those districts that have a lack of access to water such as the north-western provinces of Faryab and Badghis. Areas attacked by locusts will also be targeted. This includes western Baghlan and eastern Samangan irrigated areas. In Baghlan, it is estimated that locusts have destroyed about 40 percent of the harvest. WFP will continue to target the chronically food insecure areas of the Central Highlands and the north-eastern province of Badakhshan. In both areas the situation is exacerbated by conflict. During the last winter season, conflict prevented commercial trucks from entering Badakhshan and resulted in a shortage of cereals, which led to exorbitant cereal prices in the province. Finally, WFP Afghanistan will also focus on previous high production poppy areas, particularly Helmand, Uruzgan and Kandahar.

Social Groups targeting

The situation in the country is becoming increasingly desperate for a number of different social groups. Sharecroppers and small landowners, in the geographical areas cited above have no or little crop for the third year in a row. Most of their assets have been liquidated. Many have resorted to eating wild foods. The Kuchis are also extremely affected by the drought. It is reported that some families have sold off whole herds, which has left them without resources and stranded. Female-headed households are amongst the most vulnerable. These women are alone, without an able bodied male, and they have weak or non-existent links to the labour market. Typically these households depend on the charity of the community but increasingly there are fewer resources left to share. Begging is a non-lucrative option as is child labour, particularly in the most remote villages. These families do not have the resources to relocate. They have no options. They have hit rock-bottom poverty. Without food aid, it is expected that members of these families will die.

In the crisis Districts, WFP Afghanistan plans to target 30 percent of the total settled population. It reaches 60 percent in the worst affected Districts, mainly in Badghis and Ghor Provinces. In the most affected districts of the worst affected Provinces (refer to paragraph 3.6.1), it is estimated that 25 percent of the Kutchi population will be dependant on relief assistance, with the exception in Helmand and Kandahar Province. In these two Provinces, 50 percent of the entire group do not have any access to higher altitude pasture, and will require assistance.

The drought and conflict related Internally displaced (IDP ) population, which was around 450 000 at the end of June 2001, is expected to grow up to 1 000 000 by the end of the winter. 100 percent of this population are considered in need of assistance. Additional mixed commodities are also required for supplementary feeding centres throughout the country that are expected to be required to treat up to 300 000 severely malnourished people, mostly children, this year (average treatment time 3 months).

6.3 Coping Mechanisms

National level: Government measures

Last year, the Taliban Authorities were reportedly able to import an estimated 500, 000 to 600 000 tonnes of wheat from Pakistan and made it available on the market at a subsidized price. This year, as a result of the poppy ban, the authorities will have an estimated loss of revenue of an estimated US$10 million or more, seriously restricting their ability to import cereals during 2001/02. Due to the poppy ban and the continuing general economic decline, private sector cereal imports will also be adversely affected. There are also expected to be supply constraints this year since Pakistan, the principal source of wheat imports to Afghanistan, faces a production shortfall due to drought. The Northern Alliance authorities have made limited distributions to the conflict based IDPs such as those in Faizabad city.

Household level

Livelihoods of the majority of Afghans are close to subsistence under normal conditions. In normal years, a traditional system of redistribution ensures that even the poorest segments of the society have access to food to survive. Cumulative effects of drought over the past three years have exhausted the traditional Afghan coping mechanisms. This year, in numerous places, even the normally better off families are barely surviving and cannot provide succour to their distressed neighbours.

The impact of the very radical poppy ban left thousands of small landowners and sharecroppers as well as farm workers without their major source of income. They can no longer access loans as collateral in the form of poppy output does not exist. In all these acutely affected places, people have already sold their livestock and other household assets. Many now may have to sell their land, if there are buyers. People have reduced food intake in terms of both quality and quantity. The situation will continue to worsen as the year progresses.

6.4 Food distribution

From the beginning of July 2000 to the end of June 2001, WFP will have distributed a total of 241 597 tonnes of food commodities. This is done mostly through WFP's Emergency Operations and Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO). WFP is planning to distribute an average of around 32 000 tonnes of wheat per month during July 2001 to June 2002, the total for the period being 386 083 tonnes (refer to table 6-a-b-c). This will provide for only the most basic needs of the most vulnerable and, at the same time, will stretch implementation capacity to its limits. Not only will this absorb almost all available transport capacity in many areas, it will exploit implementing partnerships to the greatest extent possible, as well as other support structures such as the UN security apparatus, air transport and international staff ceilings. Crucially, it also depends on the unprecedented generosity of donors. These needs are determined by VAM assessments conducted at the district level that assess all forms of entitlement, prioritise areas and direct targeting (Note: Regional deficits, as provided in Table 5, do not distinguish between production deficits which are expected under normal conditions (e.g. urban populations and chronically food deficit areas) and those that result from current drought production losses. there is therefore no direct correlation between aggregate regional deficits and level of emergency food aid needs estimates ).

Out of this requirement, 156 600 tonnes are presently pledged and not yet utilised. At the current rate of utilisation WFP has resources to continue operations until the end of November. The remaining 229 483 tonnes will be requested in a new Emergency Operation to start in November 2001. Last year, Food Aid covered 10.4 percent of the total cereal gap. This year, despite more than a 70 percent increase in the planned food aid volume, the coverage will rise to only 27 percent percent of the 1 418 000 tonne gap (import requirements less commercial imports). The gap will be compensated for in a number of ways. Commercial trade from Kazakhstan and Pakistan is anticipated to meet `effective demand' which relies upon purchasing power. This, however, will be vastly diminished this year. Utilisation will decrease as families reduce consumption and turn to wild foods and cheap famine food alternatives when they no longer have the ability to purchase. The remaining gap that cannot be bridged is expected to result in a continued rise in the signs of distress amongst the affected population. The rate of outmigration is expected to continue to increase along with levels of malnutrition and mortality.

In term of relief distribution mechanisms, several modalities are used in Afghanistan. WFP provides rations through Food For Work of 5 kg per person per day. Through Food for Asset Creation projects, WFP Afghanistan distributes 5 kg per day with a maximum of 75 kg per month for labourers. The free food component is limited to 50 kg per family per month. The total duration of the ration depends on the needs of the family and their access to other sources of food and varies from region to region. WFP will also continue to distribute a range of commodities through its Institutional Feeding, supplementary feeding programmes, Food for Seed and Food For Education activities.

Table 6-a. Afghanistan: Estimates of Food Aid Requirements in crisis areas, 2001/02

Region:
With Provinces
Vulnerable Groups
Major Factors inducing vulnerability
Number of
People
Needing
Assistance
Duration of Assistance
Ration
Est.
Food Aid Needs
(Mts.)
North
Faryab,
Jaozjan,
Saripul,
Balkh,
Samangan
1. Crop dependant
Farmers
1. Drought; very large reductions in rain-fed wheat harvest.
2. Low snowfall, large reduction in irrigated wheat harvest.
3. Drought, asset/income losses re: livestock
649 000  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
54 083  
North-East
Baglan,
Kunduz,
Takar,
Badakhshan
1. Crop dependant
Farmers
1. Drought, large reductions in rain-fed wheat harvest.
2. Security constraints negatively effecting area cultivated
3. Low snowfall reducing irrigated wheat harvest.
191 500  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
15 958  
West
Herat,
Farah,
Badghis
1. Crop dependant
Farmers
1. Drought, very large reductions in rain-fed wheat harvest.
2. Low snowfall, large reduction in irrigated wheat harvest (Karez & flood irrigated).
494 000  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
41 167  
 
3. Livestock dependant
Kuchis/Nomads
1. Drought, large asset/income losses re: livestock
3 500  
July. 2001-
April 2002
9 months
50 kg/family/month
262  
East Central
Ghor,
Bamyan
1. Crop dependant
Farmers
1. Security constraints and irrigation infrastructure problems contribute to very large reduction in irrigated wheat harvest.
2. Drought, reduction in rain-fed harvest
463 500  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
38 625  
Central
Kabul,
Parwan,
Kapisa,
Logar,
Wardak
1. Crop dependant
Farmers
1. Drought, reduction in rain-fed harvest.
261 500  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
21 792  
 
2. Livestock dependant
Kuchis/Nomads
1. Drought, large asset/income losses:
livestock
Large reduction in karez irrigated harvest
1 000  
July. 2001-
April 2002
9 months
50 kg/family/month
75  
South
Paktika,
Khost,
Ghazni
1. Crop dependant
Farmers
Drought, reduction in rain-fed and karez irrigated harvest
203 500  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
16 958  
 
2. Livestock dependant
Kuchis/Nomads
1. Drought, large asset/income losses:
livestock
8 500  
July. 2001-
April 2002
9 months
50 kg/family/month
637  
East
Nangarhar,
Laghman,
Kunar
1. Crop dependant
Farmers, including Poppy farmers and workers
  • Large loss of income and wages due to ban of poppy crop
  • Reduction in karez irrigated harvest
93 500  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
7 792  
South West
Quandahar,
Helmand,
Zabul,
Nimroz,
Urozgan
1. Crop dependant
Farmers
1. Drought, reduction in rain-fed fed and
karez irrigated harvest.
2. Large loss of income and wages due
to ban of poppy crop
482 500  
July. 2001-
May 2002
10 months
50 kg/family/month
40 208  
 
2. Livestock dependant
Kuchis/Nomads
1. Drought, large asset/income losses:
livestock
26 000  
July. 2001-
April 2002
9 months
50 kg/family/month
1 950  
TOTAL
   
2 878 000  
 
50 kg/family/month
239 507  

Table 6-b: WFP - IDPs, Supplementary Feeding and Other Relief Distribution Mechanisms, 2001/02

Region:
w/ Provinces
Vulnerable Groups
Type of Activity
Number
of People
Needing
Assistance
Duration of
Assistance;
Ration
Est.
Food Aid
Needs
(MTs. wheat)
Central
North
North East
West
IDP
Urban camps
Drought IDPs
Conflict IDPs

318 000  
156 000  

6 months
9 months
Daily, per person:
350 gm flour
20 gm sugar
30 gm oil
30 gm pulses
34 776  
Central
North
South West
IDPs
Rural camps
Drought IDPs
Conflict IDPs

96 000  
138 000  

6 months
9 months
Monthly per
Household:
50 kg wheat
5 l oil
15 150  
North
IDPs
Rural non-camps
Drought IDPs
42 000  

6 months
Monthly per Hh:
50 kg wheat
5 l oil
2 100  
All regions
Malnourished children
Supplementary feeding requirement
(SF activity to cover 12 months, avge treatment time 3 month)
300 000  
(@75 000/ 
pp/day)       
3 months/pp
Daily, pp
150gm CSB
250gm flour
30gm oil
20gm sugar
30gm pulses
6 750  
All regions
Various
Non emergency activities:
Bakeries (48 000 MT)
Food for Work (30 000 MT)
Food for Seed (5 000 MT)
Food for Education (3 000 MT)
Institutional Feeding (1 800 MT) * Weekly average

600 000  
400 000  
10 000  
25 000  
56 000  
various
various
87 800  
TOTAL
   
2 141 000  
   
146 576

Table 6-c: WFP Food Aid Plan, 2001/02

 
Number of People Needing Assistance
Estimated Food Aid Need (MT wheat)1
Crisis Areas
2 878 000       
239 507       
IDP& Supplementary Feeding
1 050 000       
58 776       
Other Relief Distribution Mechanisms
1 091 000       
87 800       
Grand Total
5 019 000       
386 083       

6.5 Logistics

Afghanistan is a landlocked country. Dilapidated infrastructure and harsh climatic conditions restricts access to many regions. In winter, heavy snowfall and landslides cause disruptions in certain places. Civil conflicts also make movement at times in certain places insecure. The cumulative result of these factors is that the movement of food in the country is complex and transportation costs are high.

WFP delivers food aid to Afghanistan mainly through a southern and a northern corridor. Commodities required for the southern parts of Afghanistan are imported through ports in Karachi, southern Pakistan, and transported to Peshawar and Quetta. All shipments for the northern parts of Afghanistan are imported via Baltic and Black Sea ports such as Riga, Tallin and Poti. Cargo from these ports are transported to the transit warehouses and re-forwarded to northeast Afghanistan. Another corridor via Bandar Abas in Iran was opened in 2000 in order to reach the western provinces and some of the northern areas of Afghanistan.

Standard routes for Kabul and Jalalabad are from Peshawar, whereas Kandahar is reached via Quetta. Herat can be reached through both southern and northern corridors. The only way to reach Faizabad is Via Osh in Kyrgyzstan. This cargo travels about 4 500 kilometres before it reaches Osh and from there passes Pamir mountains, altitude 4 000 meters, to reach Ishkashim, located between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. From Ishkashim commodities are trans-shipped onto Afghan trucks to reach Faizabad. Mazar was accessible from Termez, a town bordering Uzbekistan, until the Uzbek Government closed its borders to Afghanistan. Transportation of commodities was briefly allowed by crossing the river by barge. Currently, all cargo to Mazar is sent from Termez via Turkmenistan via road. The route adds an additional 650 kilometres to the transportation and is costly. However, in summer, Mazar can also be supplied from Peshawar via Kabul.

-------

7. MEDIUM AND LONG TERM MEASURES

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Abdur Rashid
Chief, GIEWS FAO
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail:
GIEWS1@FAO.ORG

Khaled Adly
Regional Director, OMN, WFP
Fax: 0020-2-7547614
E-Mail:
Khaled.Adly@WFP.ORG

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1 Circulated only for countries where foodcrops or supply situation conditions give rise to concern.

2 Sedentary population is dependent on both rainfed and irrigated agriculture - they usually have some head of cattle and other livestock; transhumant population depends on rainfed agriculture and livestock; and the Kuchi are entirely dependent on livestock. See section 3.6 for the collapse of livestock related livelihood this year.

3 The contents of this section are based on a variety of sources including FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission Reports of previous years, WFP documents and surveys, and discussions with concerned officials in the UN System in Afghanistan and others.

4 Obtained by applying an annual population growth rate of 3.4 percent to last year's population of 21.9 million and deducting an estimated net outmigration of some 400 000 during the past year.

5 The share of 15 workers from 1 hectare is 11.25kg of opium, giving 0.75 kg per worker. Each worker thus earns from 2.5 shifts of 15 days each 1.875 kg or US$56.25.

6 The share of the Taliban Authorities: 10 percent of the total output of 3 600 tonnes of opium, which valued at US$30/kg, gives US$10.8 million.

7 Wheat provides the bulk of calorie intake in Afghanistan. Often bread and yoghurt alone constitute a full meal in rural areas.