FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
• Favourable weather conditions for 2021 winter crops
• Well below-average cereal production obtained in 2020
• Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 forecast at above-average level
• Prices of wheat flour and potatoes increased slightly in recent months
Favourable weather conditions for 2021 winter crops
Planting of the 2021 winter crops, mainly wheat, to be harvested from July, finalized last October under overall favourable weather conditions. According to satellite-based imagery, cumulative precipitation amounts have been near average in most crop lands since the beginning of the season, benefitting soil moisture and improving production prospects for winter cereals.
Planting of the 2021 coarse grains, to be harvested in August and September, is expected to begin in April.
Well below-average cereal production obtained in 2020
Harvesting of the 2020 cereal crops finalized last September and the aggregate output is estimated at about 243 000 tonnes, well below the five-year average. The 2020 production of wheat is officially set at 132 000 tonnes, 44 percent below the average level, mainly due to a gradual reduction in planted area that almost halved since 2015 as farmers switched to more profitable crops. In addition, scarce precipitation during the season negatively affected yields in parts of the key wheat producing central Gegharkunik Province and in the minor producing northern Tavush Province. Similarly, the output of barley is officially estimated at a below-average level of 88 000 tonnes, mostly due to reduced plantings.
Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 forecast at above-average level
Cereal import requirements in the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 396 000 tonnes, 25 percent above the five-year average volume. Wheat imports, which account for most of the total cereal purchases, are forecast at an above-average level of 350 000 tonnes, on account of the low outputs obtained in the last two years.
Prices of wheat flour and potatoes increased slightly in recent months
Domestic prices of first grade wheat flour increased in March and April 2020 mainly due to an uptick in consumer demand at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prices remained overall stable between May and November and slightly increased from December onwards. In February 2021, prices were about 8 percent above their levels a year before due to the weak local currency and high export quotations from the Russian Federation, the country’s key wheat supplier.
Prices of potatoes, another staple food, seasonally increased in May 2020, with further upward pressure exerted by strong demand from consumers, fearing supply shortages due to the pandemic. Prices then sharply decreased until September, with the arrival to the markets of the newly harvested tubers and a slowdown in demand. Prices increased slightly between October 2020 and February 2021, in line with seasonal trends, and reached levels about 15 percent below those 12 months before following the harvest of a year-on-year larger output.