This monitoring cycle marks the primary harvesting season for paddy and maize. With some exceptions, survey participants report either no change or decreases in production due to the late monsoon earlier this year. The data indicates that the consequently delayed planting of these two major cereals contributed to lower food stocks and fewer agricultural labor opportunities in cases where less land was cultivated in the absence of sufficient irrigation.
As predicted in Food Security Bulletin 10, the actual effect of the delayed monsoon rains varies and is not equally extensive or adverse in all the districts monitored. Where the impact has been adverse, households report lower food stocks than last year, with some indicating stocks will run out one to three months earlier. The survey also picked up early indications of significantly increasing labor migration rates. The food stock shortfalls might drive migration rates up across the affected districts in the months ahead.
Fortunately, the ceasefire and consequent freer movement of goods between districts have depressed or maintained retail prices of basic foodstuffs. Food supplies have been unusually plentiful in the monitoring cycle. Both factors lower the bar for access to food and contribute to mitigating the effect of the decrease in summer crop production. The lower stock level may, however, drive prices up in the medium term, especially if the expiry of the ceasefire leads to intensified fighting and limited movement of food from surplus to deficit areas.
Another positive development was the early rain in December which is expected to boost the winter harvest of wheat and barley in April and May considerably.