Reference Date: 28-January-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Above average wheat harvest in 2013
Wheat import requirements forecast at below average levels in 2013/14
High levels of inflation remain
Food security situation improves but vulnerable groups in parts still a concern
Planting of the winter wheat, for harvesting from May 2014, was concluded in November/December 2013. A prolonged period of below-average temperatures and low precipitation is registered so far although the impact on crops remains unclear. On average, Afghanistan harvests wheat from about 2.5 million hectares. About 90 percent of the wheat crop is planted in the autumn and about 80 percent of the crop is rain-fed.
Above average wheat harvest gathered in 2013
An above average wheat harvest of 4.9 million tonnes was collected in 2013, slightly below the 2012 harvest which was the second highest on record for the last 35 years. However, large differences exist between provinces. Smaller wheat harvests were gathered in Faryab, Ghor Jawzjan and Khost due to dry spells and untimely rains combined with wheat rust in some areas.
Improved seed availability through private companies together with the provision of subsidised improved seeds to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) assisted crop productivity. Households with low purchasing power in northern Afghanistan are eligible for subsidies for improved seeds.
Elsewhere, the Afghanistan Opium Risk Assessment 2013 found that the poppy cultivated area in 2013 has increased across Afghanistan for the third year in a row following high opium prices coupled with insecurity. Opium cultivation increased in 12 of the country’s 34 provinces.
Wheat import requirements put at below average levels in 2013/14
Cereal import requirements (mainly wheat) in the current marketing year 2013/14 (July/June) are forecast at 1.4 million tonnes, about 12 percent higher than last year but 30 percent less than 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 and again in 2013, wheat and wheat flour prices in some provinces have been increasing since June 2012 compared to their pre-2012 levels. Flour prices recorded higher increases reflecting limited availability of domestic flour. In December 2013 wheat and flour prices in Kabul, at 23.25 AFN/kg and 29 AFN/kg, were both about 4 percent higher than the previous month. Although wheat prices in Kabul strengthened by 8 percent compared to a year earlier, wheat flour price decreased by about 13 percent. Continuous depreciation of the Afghani over the last two years amplified the price increases in local currency.
Inflation rates have remained elevated due mainly to high energy costs. In December 2013, the CPI in Kabul was up 6.6 percent relative to the same period last year. The food component of the CPI increased by 9.7 percent while the non-food component rose by 4.6 percent. Compared to last year, bread and cereals recorded one of the largest increases of 10.4 percent among all food and beverages items, exceeded only by vegetables (almost 30 percent).
Stable food security situation overall but concern remains in parts for low income people
The overall food security situation has generally been stable owing to the above average harvest. However, food security concerns remain in some areas, particularly in the west-central highlands where below average rain-fed harvest was collected. Poor households rely on external humanitarian assistance. The WFP emergency food assistance was expected to reach over 900 000 beneficiaries in 2013.