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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 25-September-2017


  1. Below average cereal output forecasted for 2017 following dry weather conditions in autumn

  2. Cereal import requirements in 2017/18 forecast at levels similar to 2016/17, but 25 percent above average

  3. Wheat prices generally stable, inflation easing

  4. Food insecurity on the rise

Below average cereal output forecasted for 2017 following dry weather conditions in autumn

The winter wheat and barley harvest finished in June, while the spring wheat harvest will continue in the mountainous areas in the northeast until the end of September. Dry weather conditions and resulting limited soil moisture in the autumn of 2016 delayed winter grain plantings in some areas and some farmers switched to spring wheat. The rains and high elevation snow resumed in January 2017, ending an early season dryness across most of the country. A concern remains in the north and northeast due to a delayed onset of seasonal rains and prolonged dry periods impacting the rainfed cropping areas as well as pastures of Badakhshan, Samangan, Baghlan, and Takhar provinces. Total wheat production in 2017 is forecast at 4.28 million tonnes, almost 16 percent below the five-year average.

The bulk of farmers rely on their own farm‑saved seeds. Households with low purchasing power in some areas are eligible for subsidies for improved seeds. For the 2017/18 cropping season, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock plans to distribute 10 000 tonnes of certified wheat seeds to be distributed to 200 000 farming households, sufficient to plant about 68 000 hectares (out of 2.3 million hectares of wheat planted in 2016). The FAO and some NGOs provide some certified wheat seeds and other inputs, although the amounts are low compared to the total needs.

The 2016 Opium Survey (currently the last available) revealed that in 2016 the total area under opium poppy cultivation (201 000 hectares) increased by 10 percent compared to the previous year. Potential opium production was estimated at 4 800 tonnes, with an increase of 43 percent from the 2015 level of 3 300 tonnes, but still below the 2014 production of 6 400 tonnes. Strong opium production increases were noted particularly in the areas where the security situation has deteriorated since 2015, such as the Northern Region and in Badghis Province.

Cereal import requirements in 2017/18 similar to previous year

Cereal import requirements (mainly wheat) in the current 2017/18 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 3 million tonnes, about the same as in the previous year and 25 percent above the five‑year average. Even in years with above average domestic production, the country imports significant quantities of wheat flour, reflecting the lack of adequate domestic milling capacity and problems of cost effectiveness. The main suppliers of wheat flour are Kazakhstan and Pakistan. Imported wheat and wheat flour are often blended with domestic wheat to improve its protein content.

Wheat prices generally stable, levels of inflation easing

Between August 2016 and May 2017, wheat grain prices remained generally stable. A less than 10 percent increase was observed between May and July 2017 when the local winter wheat harvest neared completion. With improved availability on local markets, prices have eased. Large price differentials persist among different areas of the country: wheat grain is almost 30 percent more expensive in Kandahar than in Herat.

Inflation rates have eased in July 2017, mainly due to the relatively stable exchange rate between the Afghani and the US dollar supported by lower global goods and energy prices. In July 2017, the CPI was up 5.1 percent relative to the same period last year, a decline from over 7 percent in May and June 2017. The food component of the CPI increased by 7.4 percent in July 2017, less than around 10 percent recorded about the same as in the previous month.

Food insecurity on the rise

Overall food insecurity in the country is on the rise, with almost 1.6 million people (6 percent of the population) considered to be severely food insecure and 9.7 million people (34 percent of the population) being moderately food insecure. Continuing conflict, natural hazards and limited economic opportunities increase the vulnerability of the poorest households, including subsistence farmers.

The total number of individuals displaced by the conflict in 2016 is estimated at about 636 500. A large share of displacements are located in the hard-to-access areas. Since January 2017, some 200 000 individuals have fled their homes. Documented and undocumented Afghans have been returning to the country for a variety of reasons, including from the deteriorating protection space in Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran. So far in 2017, almost 84 000 Afghans returned from Pakistan and 230 000 from the Islamic Republic of Iran, adding to 700 000 undocumented Afghans who returned to the country in 2016. Most returnees need support to be socially and economically reintegrated.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.