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

SPECIAL REPORT

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO TAJIKISTAN

1 August 2002

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Mission Highlights

  • Tajikistan's cereal production for 2002 is expected to reach 444 000 tonnes, an increase of 30 percent over last year. At this level, cereal production covers about 40 percent of total consumption requirements.
  • Generally good rainfall was the main contributor to this year's improved production, though heavy rains did have adverse effects in some areas.
  • Aggregate cereal import requirements for 2002/03 marketing year (July/June) are estimated at 656 000 tonnes. Commercial imports are estimated at 450 000 tonnes, while existing food aid programmes and pledges amount to 93 414 tonnes. This leaves an uncovered deficit of 112 000 tonnes, which is to be met by 71 657 tonnes of emergency and 40 343 tonnes of programme food aid.
  • Persistent structural and infrastructure problems severely hamper food-crop production.
  • Long-term development assistance is urgently needed in order to reverse the worsening trend of the country's means of agricultural production (irrigation, mechanisation, seed and fertilizers among others).
  • The growth of the locust population within the country this year may lead to serious crop losses next year unless preventive measures are taken.

1. OVERVIEW

A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was fielded to Tajikistan between 17 June and 1 July 2002, following a request from the Government to assess the food situation in the country. The Mission was to estimate cereal output in the 2001/02 cropping season and possible food aid requirements for the 2002/03 marketing year (July/June) following two years of severe drought coupled with dilapidated agricultural infrastructure and continuing tight food supply in the country. In addition, this year's crops were threatened by locusts, which would have had severe implications for the already tight food supply situation. Fortunately, the Mission found that the locust infestation was not widespread and did not have any significant impact on crop production in 2001/02.

The Mission undertook extensive field trips in three of the four regions of the country and met many individual and groups of private farmers and households as well as the staff of state farms. The Mission also held extensive discussions with relevant Government officials at district and central levels, international NGOs and UN agencies. A comprehensive pre-assessment survey, which was conducted by the WFP country office, provided valuable insights to the agricultural sector in general and crop conditions in particular in major crop producing areas of the country. Crop yields, area and production estimates and forecasts in this report are based on the pre-assessment survey, field visits and discussions with the aforementioned parties. In addition, vegetation index (NDVI) from satellite imagery at one kilometre resolution was used to compare this year's vegetation coverage and vigour with the preceding year.

The Mission estimates cereal output at 444 000 tonnes in 2002, which is 30 percent higher than the drought-reduced harvest1 of the preceding year and about 40 percent of the estimated domestic cereal utilisation. Tajikistan will be able to commercially procure some 450 000 tonnes of wheat this year, while existing food aid programmes, stocks and pledges for 2002/03 amount to 93 414 tonnes of wheat. This leaves an uncovered shortfall of 112 000 tonnes, which is to be met by 71 657 tonnes of emergency and 40 343 tonnes of programme food aid. Carefully targeted food aid will once again be necessary to fill the estimated shortfall.

Lack of sufficient production resources following two years of drought resulted in 11 percent reduction in area planted to cereals in 2001/02 compared with the preceding year. Issues of land entitlements, debts, deteriorating agricultural machinery and irrigation infrastructure, lack of access to purchased inputs, foreign markets and credit continue to constrain crop production. In addition, prime irrigated land and inputs continue to be dedicated to cotton production at the expense of wheat, despite declining international prices for cotton fibre. Perceived profitability and foreign exchange earnings are the main incentives for favouring cotton over other crops.

2. THE ECONOMY

2.1 Overall performance

Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the CIS and is ranked 103 out of 162 countries in terms of Human Development Index (HDI). GDP per capita is estimated at US$167 per year (2001). GDP is anticipated to grow in real terms by 7 percent this year and 8 percent in 2003. Agriculture contributes 17 percent of GDP while employing 65 percent of the total labour force, and industry and construction sectors contribute to some 23 percent and employ 7.5 percent of labour force. Despite strong real growth rates, real GDP in 2001 was about 30 percent below 1991, while output levels are 60 are of the pre-independence production.

According to the State Statistics Agency 83 percent of the population cannot afford the minimum consumption basket (20 Somoni/person/month). The same agency estimates that 33 percent of the population live in extreme poverty (10 Somoni/person/month). Poverty is predominantly a rural phenomenon with the urban population 20 percent less likely to be poor compared to the rural population. Unemployment is officially estimated at 30 percent, while other sources put the figure at a much higher level. Lack of alternative sources of livelihoods continue to exacerbate household food insecurity and results in under-employment in the agricultural sector, while a large number of young men seasonally migrate for employment in other CIS countries.

Foreign debt as of mid-2001 stood at more than US$1.2 billion or 130 percent of GDP, almost all of which is Government or Government-guaranteed loans. More than 90 percent of the loans are in US dollars and the rise in debt has left the country with a heavy debt-service burden. Tajikistan is likely to run a trade and current account deficit in the coming years, which would force the country to reschedule its debts, further increasing the debt servicing burden with direct consequences for national food security.

Aluminium and cotton account for more than 70 percent of foreign exchange earnings. Any variation in international prices of cotton fibre and aluminium has a direct impact on the national capacity to import, in particular food and inputs to produce food. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) forecasts, international prices of cotton are seen to drop by about 7.6 percent in 2002 and increase by more than 20 percent in 2003, while prices of aluminium are seen to rise by 6.5 percent in 2002 and 7.4 percent in 2003. In contrast, international wheat prices are expected to rise by more than 14 percent in 2002 and 24.5 percent in 2003, making food imports rather expensive. However, the expected increase in aluminium prices would more than compensate for any increase in wheat prices.

Table 1. Tajikistan: Imports, exports and trade balance, calendar year

 
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
20021/
Exports
               
Cotton fibre
               
- Quantity (`000 tonnes)
121
104
108
88
92
79
75
84
- Value (US$ million)
212
157
167
112
82
84
71
72
Share in total export value (%)
27.2
20.4
22.4
19.1
12.3
10.6
10.9
10.3
Aluminium
               
- Quantity (`000 tonnes)
231
191
183
187
224
274
287
285
- Value (US$ million)
390
263
252
234
308
436
398
416
Share in total export value (%)
50.1
34.2
33.8
39.9
46.2
55.1
61.2
59.4
Other exports (US$ million)
177
350
327
240
276
272
181
212
Total exports (US$ million)
779
770
746
586
666
792
650
700
Imports
               
Total imports (US$ million)
838
786
809
731
693
839
700
755
Wheat and flour2/ (`000 tonnes)
496
372
249
464
449
476
574
 
Commercial imports (`000 tonnes)
496
219
139
337
388
395
338
 
Food aid (`000 tonnes)
n.a.
153
110
128
61
81
236
 
Value (US$ million)
47
54
25
43
56
60
82
 
Trade Balance (US$ million)
-59
-16
-63
-145
-27
-47
-50
-55
Source: State Statistical Agency and State Customs Committee Government of Tajikistan, 2002.
1/ Based on EIU Price forecast, 7.6 percent decrease in cotton prices, 6.5 percent increase in aluminium prices.
2/ Calendar year. Totals may not be exact due to rounding.

2.2 The agricultural sector

Agriculture remains one of the most important sectors of the economy, contributing to 17 percent of GDP and 65 percent of employment. Between 10-20 percent of export earnings originate from agriculture. However, lack of access to sufficient agricultural inputs, markets and credit, the dilapidated irrigation infrastructure as well as machinery have significantly constrained agricultural growth. Compared with 1991, agricultural output is less than 50 percent, productivity is at 44 percent and employment at 124 percent.

Land reform

Land reform has been at the heart of the economic restructuring programme since independence. The former collective farms have been re-organized into lease farms, joint stock companies, dehkan farms and household plots. The latter two forms of land tenure are private and according to official sources account for nearly 50 percent of total agricultural land.

Dehkan farms could be considered a positive step towards a viable private agricultural sector. A number of households, often extended family members from the former collective farms, are given the right to inheritable land use. Individual shares have not been demarcated to encourage an economically viable size, economies of scale in production and marketing as well as efficient division of labour. However, in cotton growing areas dehkan farmers are `encouraged' to allocate a large part of the farm to cotton production, which under the current circumstance may not be in the best interest of the farmers. Dehkan farms still depend on state farms for irrigation, purchased inputs and farm power. Land sale is not permitted and `unsatisfactory' production performance may lead to loss of land use right. In addition, land right certificates are beyond the means of many households while agricultural taxes range between 30-40 percent of the value of output. Land entitlement policies and tax regimes are under review and the situation may change in the near future. It is argued that the land tenure policies and tax regimes have been a major factor in discouraging private investment in agriculture.

Household plots/kitchen gardens are mainly for subsistence farming and a major source of household food supply. The majority of households in the rural areas have access to a small plot (0.08-0.2 ha) of land, usually attached to homes. Some part of the produce from the household plots is also supplied to the local markets. Some estimates indicate that household plots contribute some 50 percent of household consumption, in kind and cash.

Some 65 000 hectares of land under a presidential decree has been distributed to households with financial difficulties. Some land has also been given on a long-term lease to households, while state farm workers are given a small plot to cultivate in return for labour on the state farms. In all cases issues of land entitlement insecurity and access to farm machinery, inputs and markets have severely hampered efforts to increase agricultural production.

Input supply

Private sector input supply network is not developed while existing state institutions cannot meet the growing demand from the private farmers. In addition, commercial import and marketing of inputs is constrained due to deteriorating agricultural terms of trade. Agricultural inputs - fertilizers, agro-chemicals, machinery and fuel- by and large, reflect international prices, while agricultural produce is heavily discriminated against due to the prohibitive tariff and non-tariff taxes in neighbouring countries. Therefore, the use of fertilizers, agro-chemicals and improved seed varieties has continuously declined since independence. Farm machinery and irrigation equipment such as pumps and pipes have been in a dilapidated condition and most machinery have passed their useful life.

Some joint ventures of foreign and local companies have emerged in the past few years dealing mainly in cotton. These companies provide all necessary inputs and finance cotton production against procurement of the cotton output2. This has encouraged cotton production at the expense of cereals, whereby farmers grow cotton simply to obtain advance payment for their labour and inputs. It is not uncommon to find some of the inputs, meant for cotton, in the market or used on other crops.

Marketing and processing

The domestic market is disintegrated, small and easily saturated. It can absorb a rather insignificant amount of the domestic produce, in particular fruits and vegetables. Access to foreign markets is limited and unprofitable due mainly to prohibitive tariff and non-tariff barriers in the neighbouring countries. Transit tariffs in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are particularly high. Cotton marketing is predominantly in the hands of the state or the newly created joint venture Cotton Companies. In all cases transparency of prices, operation costs and margins is a major issue, and farmers in almost all cases are not aware of input and output prices. Contract cotton farming not only takes land away from cereal production but may also stunt the development of a viable private agricultural sector by keeping the farmers away from the marketing chain.

There is little or no capacity in the country to process and package agricultural produce, in particular fruits, vegetables and dairy produce. Fresh fruits used to be exported in large quantities to neighbouring and CIS countries but the tariff regimes in the neighbouring countries have made it nearly impossible to export fresh fruits.

3. FACTORS AFFECTING FOOD PRODUCTION IN 2001/02

3.1 Climate

Tajikistan experienced two consecutive years of relative drought in 1999/2000 and 2000/01, with precipitation (averaged over a number of recording stations) significantly below the long-term seasonal mean of 447 mm. In contrast, precipitation during the 2001/02 cropping season was, at 448 mm, almost identical to the long-term mean. The long-term monthly means and monthly rainfall for the past three cropping seasons are shown in Figure 1.

The generally good rains of 2001/02 have meant that rainfed crops were subject to less moisture stress than in the previous two years. Although a smaller area of rainfed wheat was planted this year than last, a larger area was harvested. There has also been more water available in the country's irrigation network and, with better rains, less irrigation has been needed. (Because of the poor state of the irrigation network, large areas of crops on nominally irrigated land are regularly moisture-stressed in drier years). Pasture has also benefited from the better rainfall, although problems of access to pasture and fodder continue to dog the private sector.

While the monthly distribution of precipitation was very favourable for crop production up to March 2002, above-average rainfall in many areas during late April and May had some serious negative consequences. Considerable areas of cereal crops were lodged by late hailstorms and high winds, and some areas reported localised crop losses resulting from mudslides and flooding. In many areas, fruit and other horticultural crops were badly damaged by the heavy rains and hailstorms, with apricot and grape yields often experiencing serious setbacks. Unusually wet soils at the start of the growing season led, in many areas, to late planting of spring cereals and cotton. Elsewhere, significant areas of newly emerged cotton that had been planted on time were damaged by hail and had to be replanted. High humidity and rain-splash during May and June encouraged the spread of rust in wheat, while, for the same reason, late blight in potatoes has been locally serious. As well as favouring crop growth, the moist conditions in May and June 2002 have also encouraged the growth of weeds.

However, the positive effects of the increased precipitation on cereal production outweighed the negative effects in the majority of districts, leading to the Mission's forecast of significantly higher levels of production in 2002 than in 2001.

A further negative consequence of the good rains has been the build-up of locust populations in parts of Khatlon, RRS and Sughd. While damage this year has been slight and confined mostly to pasture, serious crop loss may be expected next year unless preventive measures are taken.

3.2 Area planted

In 2001/02, the total planted areas of the main cereal crops (wheat, barley, rice and maize) were down slightly on the previous year, whereas the area planted to cotton increased slightly. The reduction in planted area of cereals was mostly due to a general shortage of resources following the previous two years of poor harvest. In 2000/01, large areas that were sown to rainfed cereals failed or gave negligible yields, while in 2001/02, though the area sown to rainfed cereals was smaller than in the previous year, the harvested area was often greater and the average yield was significantly higher. Nationally, the cereal area declined by about 10 percent compared with 2000/01, with the decline being shared equally by the irrigated and the rainfed sectors. Areas under cereals in recent years are shown in Tables 1 and 2.

3.3 Inputs

Farm power

Tajikistan's farm machinery continues to deteriorate, with serious consequences for crop production. With reduced tractor power and dilapidated tillage implements, seedbed preparation is often inadequate for the production of a good crop. During the Soviet era, cereals were drilled; now, with virtually all the country's seed-drills non-operational, cereals are broadcast, either by hand or by fertiliser-spreader, and then lightly incorporated into the soil by harrowing. This results in uneven crop stands, a wide variation in the depth of seeding, and a significant portion of seed being left on the soil surface. Seed left on the surface may be eaten by birds, or else may dry out and fail to germinate. High seed rates (over 200 kg/ha) are used to compensate, at least in part, for these effects. Large areas of wheat, especially on the remaining kolkhozes and the bigger dehkan, are still harvested using combine harvesters, many of which are more than 30 years old and have benefited from only stop-gap servicing since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The results include heavy grain losses in the field as well as enhanced dissemination of weed seeds.

Irrigation

Deterioration of the country's irrigation and drainage structures (pumps, diversions, canals and drains) increasingly limits crop yields in many areas. On nominally irrigated lands, crops are frequently subject to moisture stress because of faulty water conveyance; for instance, in Ghoze Malik district in Khatlon, the progressive decay of the main canal for the whole district is responsible for a reduction in water delivery from the design capacity of 14 cu.m/sec to 6 cu.m/sec. The uncertainty of water delivery to nominally irrigated lands often makes farmers reluctant to invest in good seed and fertiliser. Where drains are clogged or have collapsed a high water table or increasingly saline soils may severely hamper or even completely prevent crop development. Poor management of irrigation at the secondary and tertiary levels (including occasional conflict amongst users) also contributes to very low efficiency of water use. Because of its perceived national economic importance, cotton continues to be given precedence for irrigation, often at the expense of wheat.

Seed

Most cereal crops in Tajikistan (between 80 and 90 percent) are grown from seed retained from the previous harvest. The negative consequences of this practice are several, and are compounded with each crop generation. These include a decline in genetic yield potential, low germination rates, a serious risk of passing on and exacerbating seed-borne diseases such as smut (as has happened this year), and the likelihood of a build-up of weed seed unless effective seed-cleaning measures are taken. Even those farms and farmers who purchase cereal seed often find themselves faced with the same problems, since a significant amount of locally produced seed of very poor quality finds its way onto the open market. At present, the best cereal seed available in the country is either imported commercially or through an NGO such as CARE International which distributed more than 650 tonnes in 2001, or produced locally under the auspices of an NGO; German Agro-Action (GAA) which has seed-testing and cleaning facilities plans to produce about 680 tonnes of elite wheat seed in 2002. Unfortunately these amounts represent only a small fraction of the country's annual requirement of about 60 000 tonnes (although this could be reduced to about 40 000 tonnes if improved conditions and husbandry practices allowed lower seed rates to be used). The national Seed Institute continues to concentrate most of its very limited resources on the production of cottonseed.

Fertilizers

Use of fertiliser on cereal crops is considered by most local agricultural authorities to be, on average, between 10 and 15 percent of that recommended. This is due partly to poor availability, but mostly to the cost of fertilizers (e.g. US$7 per 50-kg bag of urea), which is considered high relative to average rural income. Under-utilisation of fertilizers certainly contributes to the country's low average cereal yields, but it is only one in a complex of limiting factors - which in itself is a further disincentive to use it. It has been calculated that almost 200 000 tonnes of fertiliser would be needed to satisfy the country's crop requirements at current recommended application rates, and that less than 50 000 tonnes were actually used during the 2001/02 cropping season. The fact that most of this was destined for the cotton crop gives an indication of the situation with respect to wheat.

3.4 Pests, diseases and weeds

Pests

Early in the year, locusts migrated from breeding grounds in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan into parts of Khatlon and Sughd, and have subsequently been multiplying there. No serious damage has yet been reported this year, since populations are largely immature and mostly confined to pasture. In June, the Tajikistan Locust Department estimated that parts of an area totalling some 48 000 ha had been occupied. CARE International financed the spraying, under the guidance of FAO, of about 10 000 ha. Despite the negligible damage this year, problems may arise in 2003 if no further preventive measures are taken and the enlarged populations swarm.

Diseases

The incidence of both rust (Puccinia spp.) and smut (Tilletia and Ustilago spp.) in wheat has been higher than usual this year. Heavy rainfall late in the season contributed to the spread of rust. However, depending on the stage at which the crop had been attacked, the impact of the disease on grain yield was often less serious than was suggested by the visible effects on the leaves. Smut, on the other hand, was locally very serious, occasionally rendering the complete harvest from a wheat field unusable.

Weeds

Weed infestation of cereal crops has been high this year, resulting from contaminated seed, generally sufficient soil moisture, lack of herbicide use, frequently low plant density (despite high seed rates), and poor husbandry practices such as inadequate seedbed preparation and inappropriate or non-existent crop rotations.

3.5 Cereal yield

Nationally, wheat yields for 2002 are significantly higher than those of last year as a result of the generally good rains. Average irrigated wheat yields, at 1.63 t/ha, are up by about 22 percent on last year. The biggest increase, however, is seen in the rainfed crop, the average yield of which rose by almost 130 percent to 0.75 t/ha (emphasising the extremely poor rainfed harvest of last year and the fact that much of the land planted to rainfed wheat in 2000/01 gave virtually no production because of the prevailing dry conditions). Wheat yields for the two years are presented in Table 1. Barley, maize and rice yields also show a substantial improvement this year compared with last year, as is shown in Table 2.

3.6 Cereal production

Despite a reduction in the area planted to cereals in 2001/02, production has increased as a result of the favourable rains and improved yields. Production parameters for recent years are given in Tables 1 and 2. Figure 2 shows the trend of cereal production in Tajikistan for the last 12 years. The persistently low levels of production in the early 1990s may reflect the lingering precedence given to cotton following the collapse of the Soviet Union, though it is interesting to note (from Figure 3) that the area under cotton has not shown a consistent downward trend over the same period. The extent of second cropping is thought to be increasing above its level of recent years, with maize (and occasionally sorghum) following wheat.

Table 2. Tajikistan: Wheat production, irrigated and rainfed, by region (2001 and 2002)

 
2001
2002
Comparisons (%) 2002/01
 
Area
(`000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Product-
ion
(`000 t)
Area
(`000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Product-
ion
(`000 t)
 
             
Area
Production
Irrigated wheat
     
 
   
 
 
GBAO
5
1.00
5
5
1.55
8
103
160
Sughd
40
1.30
52
40
1.64
66
100
126
Khatlon
86
1.34
115
81
1.54
124
94
108
RRS
32
1.44
46
29
1.86
55
92
118
Total irrigated wheat
163
1.34
218
155
1.63
253
95
116
Rainfed wheat
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GBAO
1
0.34
0.3
1
0.74
1
81
333
Sughd
32
0.30
9
16
0.68
11
50
122
Khatlon
101
0.34
34
87
0.79
69
87
202
RRS
35
0.35
12
40
0.70
28
114
229
Total rainfed wheat
168
0.33
56
144
0.75
109
86
193
All wheat
331
0.83
274
299
1.21
361
90
132
Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Table 3. Tajikistan: Cereal production, 1999-2002

 
 
 
1999
2000
2001
2002
Comparisons (%)
 
Area
(`000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
(`000 t)
Area
(`000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
(`000 t)
Area
(`000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
(`000 t)
Area
(`000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Prod.
(`000 t)
2002/01
                         
Area
Production
Wheat
                           
GBAO
6
1.80
11
6
1.00
6
6
0.90
5
6
1.45
9
100
180
Sughd
67
0.90
61
59
1.10
62
72
0.86
61
56
1.37
77
78
124
Khatlon
183
1.20
228
170
0.90
149
186
0.80
149
168
1.15
193
90
130
RRS
70
0.90
66
66
1.00
66
67
0.87
58
70
1.19
83
104
142
Total wheat
326
1.10
366
301
0.90
283
331
0.83
274
299
1.21
361
90
132
Secondary cereals
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Barley
33
0.80
25
30
0.70
21
30
0.52
16
22
0.93
21
74
131
Maize
12
2.90
35
11
2.30
25
13
2.10
27
13
2.50
33
100
122
Rice
10
1.80
18
13
2.00
26
13
1.90
25
10
2.82
29
77
116
Total secondary cereals
55
1.42
78
54
1.33
72
56
1.21
68
46
1.78
82
81
121
Total cereals
381
1.17
444
355
1.00
355
387
0.88
342
345
1.29
444
89
130
Note: Some figures for 2000/01 have been altered from those that appeared in the 2001 CFSA report, in light of discussions with agricultural authorities, development agencies and farmers in Tajikistan. Totals may not add up due to rounding.

3.7 Other foodcrops

The areas planted to potatoes and beans in 2002 (19 000 ha and 6 500 ha respectively) were smaller than those of the previous year, partly as a result of fears of further drought and partly because of the difficulty of obtaining seed.

3.8 Cotton

Despite late planting and the need to replant in some areas, Tajikistan's cotton crop is expected to be satisfactory this year. The crop is currently healthy and no significant pest outbreaks have yet been reported. The planted area (all irrigated) has increased from 257 000 ha to 267 000 ha in 2001. This year's average yield (of seed cotton) is expected to be close to 2 t/ha, in contrast to last year's 1.8 t/ha. If this yield is achieved, production will be about 527 000 tonnes, which represents a 16 percent improvement on last year when 453 000 tonnes were produced. Figure 3 shows the trends in cotton area and production over the last 12 years.

In view of the declining value of cotton on the world market and Tajikistan's persistent gap between national food supply and demand, the continuing emphasis on the allocation of scarce land and resources to cotton rather than to food crops may not be in the best interests of the country.

3.9 Livestock

Since livestock are often used as a financial buffer in times of hardship, numbers are said to have declined during the last two drought years, with many owners selling them off for slaughter. However, this decline is not reflected in the official statistics, which indicate a national cattle herd of about 1.1 million head, which is similar to the figure for 2000. If the statistics are correct, the explanation may be that not all animals sold went to slaughter and that there was a strong element of ownership transfer to those groups or individuals who could afford to build up their herd size when prices were low. Although total pasture and hay are probably more than adequate for the national herd as a result of this year's good rains, a recent national survey (carried out by Action Against Hunger) indicates that most private owners consider that their livestock have inadequate access to fodder. Nationally, about 37 000 ha is under lucerne in 2002, with numbers of harvests varying between two and seven, depending on altitude. However, this area is only about 40 percent of what used to be produced during the Soviet era.

Table 4 shows that national livestock numbers have dropped since the time of independence. Figure 4 shows that the pattern of livestock ownership changed significantly after independence but has hardly changed at all during the past three years, levelling out at about 15 percent of all cattle remaining in collective ownership.

Table 4. Tajikistan: Livestock numbers (`000 head) and ownership, 1991-2002

 
Total
Private ownership
Collective ownership
 
1991
1999
2000
2002
1991
1999
2000
2002
1991
1999
2000
2002
Cattle
1 352
1 037
1 061
1 098
814
877
907
937
538
160
154
161
Sheep &
goats
3 292
2 196
2 210
2 316
1 647
1 534
1 565
1 611
1 645
662
645
705
Total
4 644
3 233
3 271
3 414
2 461
2 411
2 472
2 548
2 183
822
799
866

 

Poultry numbers are currently very low in some districts, and have been so since before the end of the civil conflict in 1997. Several district authorities are attempting to reverse this trend through the provision of day-old chicks to households (often with the assistance of an NGO), while others are seeking investors for the re-establishment of large poultry units.

4 SITUATION BY REGION

4.1 Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO)

Wheat yields and production increased significantly in GBAO between 2001 and 2002 (see Table 1). Arable land in this region is extremely limited, so production improvements, while locally very important, have little national impact. Potato yields are usually good in GBAO (averaging about 17 t/ha), but only about 1 500 ha are planted.

4.2 Sughd

Irrigated wheat yields in Sughd showed a significant improvement on last year, being greatly assisted by good rainfall and rainfed yields more than doubled. However the reduction in the area planted to rainfed wheat was substantial (from 32 000 ha in 2000/01 to 16 000 ha in 2001/02). Production from this sector was therefore only 22 percent above that of last year.

Sughd has a wide variety of agricultural land, ranging from highly productive to infertile and saline. With increasing problems of irrigation and drainage, the proportion of unusable land is growing in certain parts of the region. In these parts, where there may also be very poor market access, it appears that land reallocation is no more than in name, with so-called dekhans still operating as kolkhozes. In such cases it is difficult to envisage how privatisation could be carried out without substantial hardship for the new owners. The transition from the present situation to privatisation poses a real dilemma under such circumstances.

Locusts have migrated into Sughd Region from both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and are currently breeding there. While they are mostly in pasture areas at the moment and crop damage is minimal, problems may arise next year unless preventive measures are taken.

4.3 Khatlon

Khatlon is Tajikistan's main wheat producer. This year it accounted for almost half of the country's irrigated production and more than 60 percent of its rainfed production. Though the region's irrigated and rainfed wheat areas were both smaller than last year, yields were higher in both sectors (and in the rainfed sector in particular), and production shows a marked increase compared with that of 2001.

The allocation of land to dekhans appears to be progressing satisfactorily in Khatlon, although Government authorities still bring pressure to bear on those in irrigated areas to satisfy cotton quotas. Rainfed dekhans enjoy a much greater degree of autonomy regarding their farm management.

Following migration northwards from Afghanistan, locusts are currently breeding in several districts of Khatlon, in particular Kolkhozabad, Kumsangir, Panj and Farkhour. While they are mostly in pasture areas at the moment and crop damage is minimal, problems may arise next year unless preventive measures are taken.

4.4 Regions under Republican Subordination (RRS)

RRS showed a larger increase in rainfed wheat production than other regions compared with last year, and average yields of irrigated wheat were highest in RRS, at 1.86 t/ha. This reflects the facts that the region also records the highest application rates of fertiliser to wheat (about 40 percent of requirements), and that its irrigation network is in a better state of repair than elsewhere. These may both be regarded as resulting from the comparative ease of access to urban markets from most parts of the region. This access to markets is also reflected in the region's potato and vegetable production, which respectively represent more than a half and more than a third of the country's totals.

With the region's relative prosperity and a good measure of crop diversity, land reforms appear to be making progress.

Some locust populations have been reported in parts of RRS, but to a lesser extent than in Khatlon and Sughd.

5. CEREAL SUPPLY/DEMAND ANALYSIS, 2002/03

Table 5 presents cereal balance for 2002/03 marketing year (July/June), which is based on the following assumptions and parameters:

Table 5. Tajikistan: Cereal balance sheet, 2002/03 (`000 tonnes)

 
Wheat
Rice (milled)
Maize
Barley
Total
Domestic availability
361
29
33
21
444
Stock draw-down
0
0
0
0
0
Domestic production
361
29
33
21
444
Total utilisation
1 017
29
33
21
1 100
Food use
918
27
15
12
972
Seed use
68
1
1
6
76
Losses and feed use
31
1
17
3
52
Import Requirements
656
     
656
Anticipated commercial imports
450
     
450
Food aid pledged (WFP)
93
     
93
Uncovered deficit
112
     
112
Note: Paddy has been converted to rice at a conversion rate of 67 percent
Wheat flour has been converted to wheat grain using 1.33 conversion factor.

Despite low international prices for aluminium and cotton, Tajikistan was able to commercially procure about 400 000 tonnes of wheat in 2000/01 marketing year. This year international aluminium prices are higher by about 7 percent, while cotton prices are lower by a similar ratio compared with prices last year. In addition, fruit and vegetable harvest has significantly improved this year, which is mainly for export and remittances from a large number of migrant workers also contribute to increase capacity to import food by the private sector. Therefore, the national capacity to commercially procure food is estimated at 450 000 tonnes of wheat equivalent, which is 50 000 tonnes higher than last year's estimate. Existing WFP food aid programmes, stocks and pledges for 2002/03 are estimated at 93 414 tonnes of wheat equivalent. This leaves an uncovered deficit of 112 000 tonnes, including an estimated 71 657 tonnes of targeted emergency food aid requirement.

6. CURRENT HOUSEHOLD FOOD SECURITY SITUATION AND JUSTIFICATION FOR FOOD AID ASSISTANCE IN 2003

This year's relatively good rainfall and associated higher yields are unlikely to significantly increase access to food for a majority of Tajikistan's poorest households, whose purchasing power remains very low. Poverty resulting from low incomes is aggravated by the non-payment (arrears) of wages, pensions and social benefits. Over 35 percent of the employed in all sectors of the economy suffer from wage arrears and the percentage appears to be highest for the poorer strata of the population3. This is particularly true for the agricultural sector, and specifically for the areas dominated by the cotton production, which are in heavy debt to the creditors. The majority of labourers in state and dehkan farms are paid after the harvest, only partially and mostly in kind. In some cases, the only compensation received is the right to cultivate crops for own consumption on a marginal strip of land and/or to collect cottonwood from the farm field after the harvest for use as fuel.

With little income derived from formal employment, own food production continues to play a crucial role in the food economy of poor rural households. About 94 percent of rural households have access to land, including kitchen gardens and "presidential" plots, which is intensively cultivated and, where possible, double cropped. With an average household plot size of 0.13 ha4 even under the most ideal circumstances, own production can provide at best 50 percent of the household's annual food needs. This year's production for many households has been constrained by lack of access to the necessary inputs. Losses incurred during the past two years of drought and uncertainty regarding the situation this year, meant that many households were reluctant to invest in purchased inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and farm power. Where land is scarce, such as in the mountainous region of the country, dependence on fruit trees and livestock for own consumption and sale/barter is higher. The income generated from the latter, however, is undermined by comparatively higher prices in these areas for wheat flour and other essential food commodities.

Therefore, although drought conditions have subsided, food insecurity among a predominant segment of the population remains almost at the same level as last year, due largely to structural poverty. During the Rapid Rural Appraisal conducted by the mission in all four provinces, interviews with most poor households indicated that the "lean period", when suffering from inadequate food consumption is at it's worst, spans approximately 6-7 months, roughly from November to May. During these months household food stocks deplete, wild foods are less available, and market prices are at their highest.

It should be noted that even in a "normal" year Tajikistan needs substantial amounts of food aid assistance as the poorest segment of the population is unable to access it's minimum food need requirements. A number of macro-economic factors and events since the country's independence in 1991; namely the loss of large amounts of financial support and assistance from the former Soviet Union, the subsequent tumultuous years associated with Tajikistan's civil war, and the still tenuous attempt to transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy cumulatively explain Tajikistan's still very real dependence on international assistance. The current 2002/03 period is no exception and a considerable portion of this international assistance is required in the form of food aid.

6.1 Coping strategies

An inadequate and low quality diet characterizes the food insecurity experienced by very poor households. It is based predominantly on cereals, and is almost completely devoid of proteins and fats. A typical meal is composed of bread, tea and/or vegetable soup. Portions are rationed. Meals are limited to two a day, or less. To complement the insufficient own production of cereals, many households with small livestock holdings are selling rather than consuming the milk and eggs in order to buy more cereals. Food and monetary transfers from relatives and neighbours constitutes a major coping mechanism for many. The proportion of maize to wheat in the diet of the poorest households is higher. Contribution of fruits to the diet is significant particularly in mountainous regions where household plots are small and own staple food production very limited. Food purchases to supplement inadequate own production consume as much as 80 percent of a poor household's small cash income.

Education is becoming less of a priority for many households that are struggling to cover more basic needs. Increasingly, children of those who cannot afford the cost of appropriate clothing, textbooks, stationery and other associated expenses, are either not enrolling, or dropping out5.

Health care appears to be the area where households are compromising the most. Informal charges solicited for medical services are discouraging the poor from seeking treatment and compel them to resort instead to traditional curative methods. Serious or aggravated conditions requiring hospitalisation compel households to sell valuables and livestock, leading to further impoverishment.

Lack of good income opportunities within the agricultural sector, as well as in other sectors, is resulting in a continuous outflow of the labour force to the Russian Federation and other countries of the former USSR. A survey conducted during July-October 2001 by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection with the assistance of IOM concluded that roughly 200,000 people leave the country on an annual basis for seasonal labour abroad.

6.2 Food security/vulnerability analysis

In support of the food aid needs assessment, an analysis of food security was undertaken using both primary and secondary data. Primary data were collected in the field by way of Rapid Rural Appraisal. Key informants at district level were interviewed to assess general food security conditions within an area. Household members from `typical' communities were subsequently interviewed to better understand household food security dynamics and to assess food gaps. The field coverage was planned after an initial `zoning' of the country. Zones were delineated taking into account major production/farming systems, topography, and population distribution.

The utilization of already collected secondary data was important within the larger context of the overall food security analysis. WFP Tajikistan's Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) unit has established a database containing food security indicators for all 58 districts throughout the country. Seven key indicators were chosen and integrated into a food insecurity/vulnerability index. The two most prominent indicators represented `access to land' and `animal/cow ownership'; the importance of these indicators was confirmed in the field and stressed repeatedly during discussions with key informants and household members. Other indicators used included the prevalence of female-headed households, remoteness/physical accessibility, demographic dependency ratio, district's average debt per capita, and salary paid to public sector workers. The analysis was structured to explicitly emphasize `chronic food insecurity'. Discussions with key informants and household members led to broad consensus that food insecurity and the associated food aid needs of the poorest were largely attributable to chronic and structural poverty.

Based on the vulnerability analysis all 58 districts were grouped into one of five food insecurity classes; "highest food insecurity", high, middle, low, and lowest.

Estimates of the percentage of a district's population food insecure were scaled taking into account each district's food insecurity rating and ranged from 15-35 percent of a district's total population. Field based information from key informants resulted in an average duration of assistance estimate of 7 months (November-May); with the last five months (January-May) being the most severe in terms of hunger.

6.3 Food aid requirements

At the national level, approximately 1.478 million people are in need of emergency food aid assistance over the period July 2002 to June 2003. This figure represents a 22 percent decrease from the worst drought year of 2000, at which time over 1.897 million people were reported as in critical need of food aid. Last year's 2001 CFSAM report estimated 1.04 million "critically in need", although it is important to note that this figure referred only to the then newly drought affected population (i.e. not including the chronically vulnerable). The amount of food aid required for the period July 2002 to June 2003 in terms of wheat flour (the main food aid commodity) is approximately 124 114 tonnes.; of which an estimated 70 236 tonnes will be covered through existing food aid programming and available resources including stocks, carryover, and pledges. The balance of approximately 53 878 tonnes (wheat flour only) represents the gap of critically needed food aid to be resourced for the period July 2002 to June 2003.

Wheat flour is the staple in Tajikistan, access to which is extremely limited for poor households during the lean season due to low purchasing power and depletion of own stocks. Pulses and vegetable oil are needed as a source of protein and fat, both of which are lacking in the current diet of poor households. Iodised salt is essential to address iodine deficiency symptoms, which are widespread among the population. Finally, sugar is needed for palatability and as a source of additional energy.

The food aid basket recommended by the Mission includes wheat flour (400 grams), fortified blended foods (50 grams), pulses (60 grams), oil (25 grams), salt (5 grams), and sugar (15 grams); in total, amounting to an energy equivalent of approximately 2113 kilocalories.

The figures of population needing assistance and the associated food aid commodities and their amounts take into account food aid resources and pledges which will be available and carry-over into 2003. These figures are reported at the regional level and are shown in Table 6 below.

Table 6. Tajikistan: Number of people critically in need of food assistance and quantity of wheat and other food items required

Region
Total population critically in need
Wheat flour requirement (tonnes)
WSB/CSB
(tonnes)
Pulses
(tonnes)
Oil
(tonnes)
Salt
(tonnes)
Sugar
(tonnes)
Khatlon
563 353
47 322
5 915
7 098
2 958
592
1 775
Sughd
482 170
40 502
5 063
6 075
2 531
506
1 519
RRS
356 275
29 927
3 741
4 489
1 870
374
1 122
GBAO
75 746
6 363
795
954
398
80
239
Tajikistan
1 477 544
124 114
15 514
18 616
7 757
1 552
4 655
Note: Elsewhere in the report wheat grain has been used, using as standard conversion factor of 1.33 to convert wheat flour into grain.

6.4 Current WFP programme

WFP is presently implementing a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), the current phase of which commenced in mid-2001 and is scheduled to end in mid-2003. The relief component provides food assistance to vulnerable groups, including pensioners, invalids, orphans and female-headed households. An important shift towards community targeting of social groups is being undertaken, with a greater emphasis on food insecurity factors such as lack of access to land, little or no livestock ownership, large number of children, lack of regular income, etc. Equally important will be a re-prioritization of resource allocation by way of more selective geographic district level targeting, based primarily on food security analysis produced by WFP's Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) Unit. WFP is presently assisting most districts in the country, the future 2003 Programme is expected to target approximately 50 percent of Tajikistan's 58 districts. The new emphasis on both geographic and community based social group targeting will result in more focused and more concentrated WFP assistance to most food insecure districts and communities.

A School Feeding Programme and supplementary feeding for families with malnourished children are also being implemented through the relief component. The School Feeding activity channels much needed food aid assistance through the primary schools. The food ration distributed to students encourages and supports higher educational enrolment and attainment. Due to successful implementation of the ongoing School Feeding activity, the importance of this component of WFP's Programme in 2003 is likely to grow. The recovery component is comprised of Food For Work activities aiming to rehabilitate the agricultural infrastructure, schools, clinics and other community assets, as well as Food For Training and small-scale income-generating activities intended to empower the beneficiaries and provide them with sustainable sources of income. The number of beneficiaries being supported this year through both components is 460 028 and 32 000 respectively.

During the second half of 2002 WFP will be phasing out its Emergency Operation, through which food assistance was being provided to victims of drought and crop failure. The operation commenced in January 2001 for an initial period of 9 months. Following the confirmation of the CFSAM in 2001 that the country was still facing a food deficit, it was extended through 2002. The total number of beneficiaries supported through the EMOP to date is 954 641.

6.5 Logistics

Food commodities for landlocked Tajikistan are transported by rail from the Baltic seaport of Riga either directly, or via Osh in Kyrgyzstan. WFP maintains transhipment warehouses in Osh and six EDP warehouses within the country at Kolkhozabad, Kurgan- Teppe, Leninabad, Khorog, Murghab and Panj, with a total storage capacity of 35 000 tonnes. Private trucking companies and WFP's own fleet of 20 seven-ton trucks are used to transport food to final distribution points. Since transport routes to GBAO are closed during winter, food for this mountainous region needs to be pre-positioned.

Regional purchase of cereals in Kazakhstan has proven to be cost effective in terms of competitive prices, lower external transport costs, and faster delivery to Tajikistan. Iodised salt can be purchased through local suppliers within Tajikistan.

 

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.

Office of the Chief
GIEWS, FAO
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail:
giews1@fao.org

Khaled Adly
Regional Director, ODC, WFP, Cairo
Fax: 0020-2-7547614
E-mail:
Khaled.Adly@wfp.org

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1 It was found that cereal harvest last year was significantly underestimated, and thus the yield figures were revised upwardly after discussions with farmers, Government officials and NGOs.

2 Despite declining international prices, efficient cotton marketing and timely provision of inputs, seem to indicate that cotton production is more profitable than alternative crops. The increasing involvement of private companies in cotton is perhaps a testimony to this fact.

3 Tajikistan Poverty Assessment, World Bank, April 2000.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.