Africa Asia Middle East عربي Français PlusNews Film & TV Photo Radio free subscription Mobile RSS find IRIN on facebook follow IRIN on twitter

humanitarian news and analysis
a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Advanced search
 Friday 27 August 2010 Latest reports:
Middle East 
Latin America & Caribbean 
Weekly reports 
Global Issues 
In-Depth reports 
Most popular 
HyperLink Share |
AFGHANISTAN: Food still unaffordable for millions

Photo: Ayub Farhat/ IRIN
Prices for main foodstuffs have dropped by over 15 percent over the past few months, but they are still unaffordable for millions of Afghans
KABUL, 12 March 2009 (IRIN) - Wheat flour, rice and cooking oil prices have dropped by over 15 percent in the past three months but adequate food is still unaffordable for millions of Afghans living on less than US$1 a day, according to officials.

The average price of a 50kg bag of wheat flour was 1,100 Afghanis (about US$21) on 10 March in Kabul, down from $36 in December 2008. A 24.5kg sack of rice has gone down to $25 from $37, and the cost of a 16kg canister of ghee is now $20 instead of $31.

“Prices have fallen considerably compared to six months ago,” Abdul Matin, a shopkeeper in Kabul’s main food market, told IRIN, citing food aid deliveries by aid agencies and the government, and imports from abroad as the main reasons for the fall in prices.

Food prices, particularly for wheat flour, rose by up to 150 percent in 2008 because of drought, which left a domestic cereal production shortfall of about 35 percent. Export restrictions by Pakistan and other wheat exporting countries exacerbated the problem.

Throughout 2008 spiralling food prices proved disastrous for millions of Afghans who were pushed into high-risk food insecurity.

In a bid to provide a temporary safety net for about five million most vulnerable Afghans, UN agencies and the government launched a joint emergency appeal in April 2008 for over $404 million to procure and distribute 230,000 tonnes of food aid and provide other life-saving assistance.

About 70 percent of the requested funds had been received from donors by February and food aid had reached some of the targeted population, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said [seen an IRIN report on winter wheat aid].

Government action

The government says it responded promptly to the price hikes in early 2008 by launching two joint emergency appeals, earmarked $100 million to procure wheat from regional markets, and waived taxes on food imports.

“Food items are adequately available in the country thanks to a number of measures taken by the government and also owing to donations from countries like India, China and Russia,” Saddudin Safi, head of MAIL’s food security department, told IRIN.

India has pledged 250,000 tonnes of wheat aid and Russia has reported the delivery of 18,000 tonnes of wheat flour to the country.

“We hope the importation of wheat from India will further decrease prices,” said Safi, adding that negotiations were still under way on how to get the wheat through Pakistan.

The Indian government has reportedly decided to lift its ban on wheat exports in May 2009, a move expected to exert further downward pressure on food prices.

Much will also depend on Afghanistan’s domestic agricultural production in 2009. After an impressive harvest in 2007, there was a shortfall of over two million tonnes of cereals in 2008 largely because of drought, according to MAIL.

No respite for the poorest

About 42 percent of the country’s estimated 27 million people live on less than $1 a day, according to the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

A marginal reduction in food prices is good news for many but it will not ensure access to adequate food for about eight million Afghans, say experts.

Households who live just above the poverty line could benefit most from falling food prices. Spending less on food will also help middle class families to save money for other essential needs such as healthcare and the education of their children.


Theme(s): (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Economy, (IRIN) Food Security


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
HyperLink Share |
FREE Subscriptions
Your e-mail address:

Submit your request
 More reports
  • 27/Aug/2010
    GLOBAL: IRIN/PlusNews Weekly Issue 500, 27 August 2010
  • 23/Aug/2010
    Analysis: Doubts over new Afghan security strategy
  • 22/Aug/2010
    ASIA: IRIN-ASIA Weekly Round-up 294 for 15 - 21 August 2010
  • 20/Aug/2010
    GLOBAL: IRIN/PlusNews Weekly Issue 499, 20 August 2010
  • 17/Aug/2010
    AFGHANISTAN: Pakistan floods hit tent supplies
     More on Early Warning
  • 27/Aug/2010
    In Brief: Chad under water
  • 26/Aug/2010
    CAMBODIA: Record low water levels threaten livelihoods
  • 26/Aug/2010
    ASIA: When hospitals become casualties
  • 25/Aug/2010
    In Brief: Anthrax concerns downplayed in Bangladesh
  • 24/Aug/2010
    THAILAND: Insect influx threatens rice production
     Most Read
    ASIA: When hospitals become casualties
    PAKISTAN: Flood damaged schools lead to education worries
    CAMBODIA: Record low water levels threaten livelihoods
    MIDDLE EAST: Gulf aid to Pakistan - update
    SOUTH AFRICA: Pholokgolo Ramothwala, "You can never hide HIV forever"

    Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | PlusNews | Film & TV | Photo | Radio | Weekly | Live news map | Interviews | E-mail subscription

    Copyright © IRIN 2010. All rights reserved.
    This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. The boundaries, names and designations used on maps on this site do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the UN. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.