Tajikistan Current Statement, February 2012
Between October and April, most households in rural Tajikistan are meeting their food needs either through food stocks that were harvested earlier in the year or market purchases. In late fall, winter wheat crops are sown and remain dormant throughout the winter months while livestock return from higher pastures for wintering or to be sold. Labor demand and income-earning opportunities generally begin a seasonal decline to their annual lows throughout the winter, and snow accumulates until it melts in the spring months and feeds into irrigation systems.
As of mid-February, cumulative seasonal precipitation is above normal in most basins within Tajikistan with the exception of southeastern Khatlon, which has a slight deficit. Temperatures have remained near or below normal throughout the winter season, resulting in above-normal snow accumulation as measured through USGS snow-water volume models in all basins, including Khatlon. This has created favorable conditions for the upcoming agricultural campaign.
Long-term probability forecasts supplied by the International Research Institute (IRI) indicate equal chances of above-average, average and below-average rainfall distribution for the remainder of the wet season in Tajikistan. However, similar forecasts indicate there will be a high probability of normal to above-normal temperatures beginning in March. A rapid and prolonged positive deviation from normal temperature ranges could lead to rapid snowmelt and evapotranspiration in the spring and early summer months, which would heighten the risk for floods and stressed crop development this year. FEWS NET will continue to monitor climatologically developments in the region.
December wheat flour prices in Tajikistan generally remain near last year’s price levels despite a good regional supply of wheat and low export wheat prices in Kazakhstan. Currently nominal prices in Tajikistan are near record high levels. The high prices may be due to higher-than-normal transaction costs that are associated with the prevailing high fuel costs, as is evident from the divergent price trend in neighboring Afghanistan. Fuel prices began to rise in May 2010 when Russian export duties were imposed on light oil exports to Tajikistan. Recently there was an agreement to allow 160,000 tons of duty-free light oil to be imported in 2012. While this may provide some relief, this amount of light oil is not expected to meet the full light oil demand in the country. Discussions regarding duties on light oil exports between the two governments are expected to continue.
An estimated 165.6 million dollars of remittances have come into Tajikistan in January, resulting in another monthly record level, according to unofficial reports. Remittances have remained at monthly record levels since November 2010, which roughly coincides with the period in which food and fuel prices began their ascent to their current anomalously high levels. This is an encouraging, mitigating factor to changes in food access that are brought on by yearlong high food wheat prices.