You are here

The rice market system in the context of severe flooding

Badin District, Sindh Province
August, 2015

The consecutive flood years of 2010 and 2011 were the worst floods Pakistan has experienced to date, affecting 20 million and 9.3 million people, respectively, throughout the country. In Sindh Province, the floods led to loss of life and also damaged standing crops, household and livestock food stocks, health, education and road infrastructure, houses, irrigation and drainage facilities and protected drinking water sources. Millions of people were displaced for several months or more while waiting for the flood waters to subside. Unless there are major changes to protective infrastructure, it is likely that a similar flood in the future will have a similar impact.

Pre-Crisis Market Mapping and Analysis (PCMMA) is a relatively new approach to conducting market assessments prior to emergencies in order to anticipate how markets will respond after a shock occurs. The PCMMA in Pakistan was an IRC-led effort intended to generate learning that could be used to refine the approach, while also providing information to humanitarian actors in Pakistan to feed into strategic and operational emergency planning efforts and building local capacity in market assessment. The analysis team followed the PCMMA guidance to apply an approach similar to that of the EMMA Toolkit in a pre-crisis context. It examined how the 2010/11 floods had impacted the function of four selected critical market systems in order to draw conclusions about the likely impact of future floods on the market systems and to propose appropriate market-based preparedness and response interventions. This report presents the findings and recommendations for the rice market system in Sindh's Badin District.

Rice is the dominant crop and staple food in Badin; as much as 90% of the rice produced in Badin is sent to other parts of Pakistan or exported internationally in a normal year, and the rest remains in the district to satisfy local demand. Though there are significant and complicated social issues and vulnerabilities related to the system of sharecropping and the constant debt in which many producers and other market actors operate, in non-flood times the rice market system in Badin is otherwise fairly robust, with production and capacity levels that far exceed local-level demand. The market is competitive and integrated, with little variation in prices along the market chain and throughout the year. Because the vast majority of rice produced in the district is exported, the market could likely respond to a significant increase in local demand without any trouble.

During a future flood emergency, the rice market system is likely to respond as it did in 2011; that is, prices will increase slightly, due mainly to transport issues but also to some damages to rice stocks and the anticipation of large-scale destruction of the nearly mature rice crop. Nonetheless, the rice market system in Badin should be able to provide the needed volume of rice during and after the flood emergency. Meanwhile, even if the September/October harvest is severely affected by the floods, as long as even a small percentage (10% +) of the normal harvest can be salvaged, the district should still have more than enough rice with which to meet local demand, provided that exports for that year are cancelled, as they were in 2011. However, the flooding will likely lead to massive damage to and blockages of key transportation infrastructure that will impede the movement of rice from one part of the district to another and that will affect the entire market chain, from rice mills to market retailers to tenant farmers. These very serious transportation challenges must be addressed if the market is to effectively supply the flood-affected population with the rice that they require during and after the flood.

For a future humanitarian response, this report recommends in-kind provision of locally procured rice to the most vulnerable households for the first month of intense flooding, to be replaced by unconditional cash grants to cover rice needs until the harvest in March/April, along with support to selected retailers to transport rice efficiently. It also recommends several activities focused on emergency preparedness, including a mapping and communication exercise focused on identifying key transport routes and land areas that are vulnerable to flooding; the development and implementation of longer-term agricultural development/poverty eradication programs to begin addressing the underlying power inequality in rice production in Badin District; and advocacy at the national-level food security cluster for consistent provision of the complete caloric requirements for the poorest households in emergencies.

Report authors: 
Emily Sloane and Muhammad Ali
Download Report (1.21 MB pdf)