FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 5/01 - Tajikistan

Originally published
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country between June and July 2001, estimated total cereal production at about 300 000 tonnes compared with 352 000 tonnes in 2000. Wheat output, the main staple crop, is estimated at 233 000 tonnes this year compared to 283 000 tonnes last year and 366 000 tonnes in 1999. Drought, water shortages, dilapidated irrigation systems and structural problems have worsened the food supply situation this year compared to last year when a large deficit was experienced, with food supplies remaining very tight throughout the year. The two main rivers, Amu and Syr, feeding the extensive irrigation system of the country, have been flowing at about 50 percent of the average levels. Precipitation levels are estimated to be about 60 percent of the average annual levels, in particular during the crucial months of March and April for the wheat crop. Agricultural inputs, particularly quality seeds, mineral fertilizers and machinery are in short supply and inadequate to meet demand. In addition, about 40-50 percent of the water lifting equipment and about 60 percent of the heavy machinery used for canal and drainage maintenance are out of order, which have significantly reduced the efficiency of the irrigation system.
Cereal import requirement (mainly wheat) for 2001/02 marketing year (July/June) is estimated at 788 000 tonnes. After taking into account a projected commercial import capacity of about 400 000 tonnes and pledged food aid of 76 000 tonnes, the uncovered deficit is estimated at 312 000 tonnes. A food deficit of this magnitude for an impoverished population, if not addressed, would have dire food security consequences. Due to a similar situation last year and lack of alternative sources of income, many households have exhausted their coping strategies and need emergency food assistance. In some areas famine-like conditions persist where people have began searching for food in highly unusual places.

WFP has been providing emergency food assistance to 1.16 million people under vulnerable group feeding (600 000 people) and through food for asset rehabilitation (500 000 people, of which 100 000 directly participating in FFAR projects) programmes since October 2000. From January to October 2001, WFP, together with its Implementing Partners, distributed in total some 56 000 tonnes of mixed food commodities. The current Emergency Operation, which was supposed to end in December, will be extended in time until June 2002 in view of this year's third consecutive drought, affecting some 1 million people in Tajikistan.