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Excessive rains likely to lead to bean production shortfalls in June

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • April 2018
Excessive rains likely to lead to bean production shortfalls in June

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Heavy rains in March and April caused excessive soil moisture and severe flooding in lowland areas and are likely to lead to below-average bean production. However, total overall Season B production is still likely to be average. Though the most vulnerable poor households in areas affected by flooding are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), the majority of poor households are likely to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through September.

    • In April, during the lean season, staple food prices are atypically low and have not risen, which is likely due to above-normal food reserves. For example, in Kirundo, in mid-April, the price of ordinary beans was 20 percent lower than it was in January 2018 at harvest time. However, limited income-earning opportunities and livestock market closures in some areas have constrained poor households’ purchasing power.

    • The number of IDPs in Burundi has fallen, though ongoing flooding may temporarily cause an increase in April. However, Congolese refugees and Burundian returnees, primarily from Tanzania refugee camps, continue to rise. Due to severe WFP and UNHCR funding gaps, in the absence of crucial food assistance, the Congolese refugees, many IDPs, and recent returnees would be in Crisis (IPC Phases 3).









    Kirundo, Karuzi, Gitega, Muramvya, Mwaro provinces

    • Season B rainfall through mid-April has been 150-190 percent above average levels, causing significant crop damage, particularly in flooded marshlands. Bean crops are most affected. In Kinyinya Commune in Ruyigi Province, which had  poor Season A production and where crops are still very young due to late planting, there have also been crop losses.
    • Since February, the Government of Burundi has kept small ruminant markets closed in these provinces to prevent the spread of the sheep and goat plague. About 8,500 goat losses have occurred, but a vaccination campaign began in early April.
    • The excessive rains are likely to decrease bean yields, one of the primary crops in Season B. However, these losses are likely to be at least partially offset by increased production of moisture-tolerant crops like sweet potatoes, cassava, and bananas. In Kinyinya Commune, some late-planted bean crops may be atypically harvested after the end of May.
    • When the closures are lifted, which is expected in coming months, some poor households, who harvested little and cannot access casual labor opportunities, will be able to sell goats as needed to buy food. At the start of the next lean season in September 2018, this typical option to earn income through livestock sales, is expected to resume.


    Following the recent above-average Season A harvest and relatively low staple food prices, food availability and access remain generally favorable. Overall, income-earning opportunities are currently seasonally low, but the demand for labor is expected to increase from May through September due to Season B harvests and Season C agricultural activities.

    Heavy and well above-normal rains in March and April, particularly in the eastern half of the country, have caused excessively high soil moisture conditions on hillsides and widespread flooding in lowland areas. Above-average rainfall is forecast through the end of the season in May. Although heavy rains and related development of crop diseases negatively affect crops like beans and Irish potatoes, other crops, such as cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, tea, and coffee are expected to benefit from them. At the national level, total 2018 Season B crop production is still likely to be average. The most vulnerable poor households affected by displacement and flooding, including in Kinyinya Commune in Ruyigi Province, could temporarily face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. However, following the Season B harvest, these outcomes are expected to lessen.

    Owing to the January-February abundant harvests, staple food prices remain lower compared to last year and the five-year average. More significantly, prices have not increased during the lean season (April-May) as typical. The low prices likely reflect the above-normal levels of food reserves at this time. In Kirundo, for example, the price of ordinary beans in mid-April was 600 BIF/kg, 20 percent lower than in early January at harvest time. Assuming that the overall Season B crop production will be average, staple food prices are expected to remain relatively low, supporting purchasing power through September. However, staple food prices could temporarily increase due to the country’s occasional fuel shortages, which increase transportation costs and constrain poor household food access. In addition to affecting fuel imports, the country’s persistent macroeconomic problems and foreign exchange shortages also hinder the importation of agricultural inputs and food supplies.

    According to UNHCR, 330 additional DRC refugees arrived in Burundi in March, increasing their total number to over 71,600. Burundians have continued to return from refugee camps in Tanzania, and to a lesser extent from the DRC. As of the end of March, IOM estimates there are approximately 174,000 IDPs in Burundi. The majority are households displaced by natural disasters, such as flooding and landslides. While the number is on a decreasing trend due to resettlement in less vulnerable areas, the number of IDPs may temporarily increase due to current flooding in various parts of the country. Those returnees, who are unable to access land to plant on time and harvest, some IDPs, and all of the Congolese refugees living in camps are fully dependent on food assistance for their minimum food needs. As WFP and UNHCR, the agencies providing most of that assistance, face persistent funding shortfalls, those vulnerable populations are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through September 2018 in the absence of assistance.

    In conclusion, food access is likely to remain better than in recent years through September, due to relatively good food reserves, lower staple food prices, and expected average harvests in May-June. As a result, most poor households are expected to continue experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes through September 2018. They are likely to meet their minimum food needs but not their essential non-food needs due to limited income-earning opportunities. Poorer households in localized areas are, however, likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), particularly in areas most affected by excess rains. In the absence of assistance, Congolese refugees, as well as some IDPs and recent returnees, are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September 2018.

    Figures Burundi Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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