Precipitation in April 2021 was below average across most of Afghanistan, except in parts of the eastern and northeastern regions where it was average to above average. The drier weather has impacted wheat in critical flowering stages in lower elevation areas according to field reports, mainly in rainfed and downstream irrigated areas. The likelihood of below-average wheat production is higher in rainfed areas of the northern, western, and some northeastern provinces. As of late May, the wheat harvest has started in lower elevation areas of the eastern, southern, and northeastern provinces.
Below-average precipitation in April also impacted rangeland conditions and pasture availability for livestock in parts of Afghanistan, especially in the western region and parts of the northern and southern region. For example, pasture conditions deteriorated in Badghis province according to field reports and, as a result, livestock prices (as measured by prices of live one-year-old female sheep) dropped significantly by 39 percent from March to April 2021 according to price data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). Similarly, in Herat province, livestock prices decreased by 41 percent from March to April 2021. Average livestock prices at the national level decreased by 3 percent between March and April 2021 but remained 18 percent above the four-year average.
Prices of most basic food commodities decreased slightly or remained stable from March to April 2021 in main markets of Afghanistan according to MAIL price data. However, prices of cooking oil increased by 9 percent between March and April to reach levels 44 percent above the four-year average. According to MAIL and WFP data, cooking oil prices in March and April 2021 were the highest recorded in Afghanistan in four and nineteen years, respectively, of monitoring. Record high prices are largely due to high global cooking oil prices, including in Afghanistan’s source markets.
Levels of conflict and insecurity incidents have increased with the warmer weather since early April and have significantly increased further since start of May 2021. In May, intense conflict was reported in the southern, northeastern, and eastern provinces, leading to significant displacement and disrupting access to fields during the peak of the harvesting season. According to preliminary OCHA estimates, about 21,000 people were displaced in Baghlan province, while 11,000 to 14,000 people were displaced in Laghman province in May 2021. Meanwhile, heavy precipitation in early May triggered floods in northeastern, western, and central provinces, affecting over 9,500 people according to initial OCHA estimates. Overall, the total number displaced due to flooding in the 2021 wet season remains lower than the five-year average.