Reports regarding the 1999 harvest have been very conflicting. The latest indications were that the area sown declined somewhat but that crop yields were much lower in part reflecting heavy rains in July, heavy infestation with smut and yellow rust, inadequate use of quality seed and the poor state of the irrigation system. One report from Khatlon indicates that the average yield fell to 0.9 tonnes per hectare, an extremely low yield given that a substantial proportion of the grain is grown with irrigation and the seeding rate approaches 300 kilograms per hectare.
In the absence of systematic official data, FAO tentatively estimates the 1999 grain crop at only 400 000 tonnes, some twenty percent less than last year's good crop. Production of cotton, the major cash crop also fell, by 16 percent to 316 000 tonnes.
The shortfall in cereal production will have to be met by food aid and commercial imports, the latter mainly from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In 1999/2000, the cereal import requirement is estimated to increase to 455 000 tonnes of which up to 148 000 is likely to be provided as food aid.
The overall food supply situation remains problematical, as poverty is endemic in the country. About 85 percent of the population have incomes below the poverty line and purchasing power remains low. Not all families are able to cover a shortfall in household food production by market purchases. In rural areas, high leasing costs also restrict household food availability. Recent assessments in the Karategin Valley found that large segments of the population were food insecure.
Humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations and assistance to develop agriculture will continue to be necessary.