Reference Date: 10-November-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Land preparation and winter wheat planting underway
Above-average wheat crop harvested in 2014
Wheat import requirements forecast at slightly above average levels in 2014/15
Wheat prices increase, partly supported by currency depreciation
Food security situation improves, but vulnerable groups in parts are still a concern
Harvesting of rice, planted in May/June 2014, is currently underway in the North Eastern provinces. Elsewhere in the country, land preparation and planting of winter grains are progressing. In September 2014, drier than usual weather prevailed but onset of rains in October 2014 in the northern part of the country has been replenishing the moisture deficit. On average, about 2.5 million hectares are cultivated with wheat annually and about 90 percent of the wheat crop is planted in the autumn months. Nearly 80 percent of wheat cultivation is rainfed.
Above-average wheat harvest estimated in 2014
An above-average wheat crop, mainly harvested in May/June, of about 5.1 million tonnes is estimated in 2014, similar to 2013 which was one of the highest on record for the last 35 years. The above-average harvest in 2014 is attributed to favourable moisture conditions with better snow accumulation in winter.
In addition, improved seed availability, through private companies together with the provision of subsidized improved seeds to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), assisted crop productivity. Domestic seed industry production in 2013 increased by 33 percent compared to 2012. Nevertheless, the bulk of the farmers still rely on their own farm-saved seeds. Households with low purchasing power in northern Afghanistan are eligible for subsidies for improved seeds.
Wheat import requirements put at slightly above average levels in 2014/15
Cereal import requirements (mainly wheat) in the current 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 2 million tonnes, about 5 percent above the last year and the five-year average. Even in years with above-average domestic production, Afghanistan imports wheat flour, reflecting lack of adequate domestic milling capacity and problems of cost effectiveness. The dominant suppliers of wheat flour are Kazakhstan and Pakistan. Imported wheat and wheat flour are often blended with domestic wheat to improve its protein content.
High levels of inflation persist
Despite a bumper harvest in 2012, 2013 and 2014, wheat and wheat flour prices in some provinces have been increasing since June 2012 compared to their pre-2012 levels. In October 2014, wheat and flour prices in Kabul were at AFN 24.75/kg and AFN 26.62/kg, both slightly lower than in the previous month. Wheat prices in Kabul strengthened by 12 percent compared to a year earlier and wheat flour price decreased by about 3 percent. Continuous depreciation of the Afghanis over the last two years amplified the price increases in local currency of imported wheat flour.
Inflation rates have declined due mainly to easing energy costs. In October 2014, the CPI in Kabul was up 1.1 percent relative to the same period last year. The food component of the CPI increased by 4.7 percent, while the non-food component decreased by 1.4 percent. Compared to last year, bread and cereals recorded an increase of 4.5 percent, while the largest increase was recorded by fresh and dried fruits (over 15 percent).
Stable food security situation overall, but concern remains in parts for low-income and displaced people
The overall food security situation has generally been stable owing to the above-average harvest in the last three years (2012-2014). However, fighting between the Government and insurgent forces resulted in further displacement. The latest available information from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicates that the total number of IDPs in the country is 702 000, with Helmand province being the most affected.
The WFP emergency food assistance which reached over 900 000 beneficiaries in 2013 was replaced by a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016. The operation is expected to reach 3.7 million beneficiaries.