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The wheat straw market system in the context of severe flooding

Badin, Ghotki and Sanghar Districts, 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 wheat straw critical market system in Badin, Ghotki and Sanghar Districts.

In normal years, the wheat straw market system functions well and provides sufficient volumes of straw to meet the needs of the population. Sanghar and Ghotki are large wheat production areas and produce most of their own straw, as well as sell to other districts, including Badin, which does not produce much wheat. If additional straw is needed in any of the districts, traders regularly bring in more supply from neighboring areas, particularly Punjab.

During flood emergencies, straw stored in open fields suffers significant losses, and farmers who keep their own straw for consumption suffer significant damages and rely on markets to meet their needs. Even though livestock are often sold or die during floods, more farmers must resort to purchasing straw in markets because of inundation of grazing land and losses to straw and other types of green fodder. Market actors report being able to provide the necessary amounts of straw during flood emergencies to meet needs, both by purchasing straw at low prices from farmers who sell it as a coping mechanism and by bringing in straw from neighboring provinces. The markets are likely to remain competitive and integrated with other straw producing areas and able to supply the necessary volumes of straw. Based on an analysis of the 2010/11 floods, the wheat straw market system by and large has the capacity to meet the anticipated demand for straw during future floods. In all three districts, market actors will likely be able to scale up supply to meet the demand by importing straw from other districts. The major limiting factor for households to access straw after the floods will be purchasing power. Because straw will need to be brought in from other districts or provinces, and roads will be inaccessible in many places, straw prices will increase.

Based on this analysis, this report proposes the following recommendations for emergency response during future floods: For the first month, in-kind distribution of fodder assistance to the affected population in Sanghar and Badin, and cash or vouchers to the affected population in Ghotki to enable them to purchase wheat straw directly from markets. 3 to 5 months following the emergency, cash or vouchers redeemable at local straw retailers can be phased-in to replace in-kind straw distributions and should last about 3-5 months, until green fodder becomes available. In addition, this study recommends considering the in-kind distribution of supplemental nutrition for livestock and assistance for green fodder crops, along with the following preparedness activities: improving straw storage mechanisms and practices at the household and retailer levels; planning for post-flood green fodder planting; and establishing supplier agreements with straw traders.

Report authors: 
Gregory Matthews and Muzafar Hussain
Download Report (1.5 MB pdf)