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Improved food access for poor households during the post-harvest period

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • August 2013
Improved food access for poor households during the post-harvest period

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Season B harvests in June replenished household and market food stocks to near-normal levels. As a result, most poor households are currently accessing food normally through their own crop production and will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least December 2013. 

    • In June 2013, prices for key staple foods were seasonally declining as production from season ‘B’ harvests improved market supply. However a recent reestablishment of a food tax on several imported staple food items, as well as a new increase in the value added tax (VAT) on basic goods and services, may cause atypical price increases over the next several months. 

    • Many refugees and returnees residing within Burundi are still in the process of rebuilding their livelihoods and continue to rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their essential food and nonfood needs.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • On June 30, 2013, the government restored a 19 percent tax on several imported basic food items.
    • On July 23, 2013, the Burundian parliament voted to increase the value added tax (VAT) on basic goods and services by 10 percent.  
    • Recent tax changes may cause food prices to increase at a slightly faster rate than is seasonally normal during the upcoming months.

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    In most areas of Burundi, the season ‘B’ harvest replenished household food stocks to near-normal levels. However, crop losses related to plant diseases (banana Xanthomonas wilt, cassava mosaic, and cassava brown streak), as well as above-normal rainfall levels in certain areas of the northwest (Muyinga, Kayanza, and Cibitoke provinces) in March/April, caused localized below-average production levels. In marshland and lowland areas, weeding activities for season ‘C’ production, which includes vegetables, beans, and sweet potatoes, are ongoing, and a normal harvest is expected between September and November. However, season 'C' production only makes up an estimated 15 percent of Burundi's total crop production and is not expected to have a major impact on household food stock levels. Land preparation and rice planting activities for season ‘A’ are also starting up in many areas, and are providing relatively normal labor wages, ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 BIF per day.

    May rainfall levels were 25 to 50 percent below average (Figure 2) and as a result, pasture and water availability for livestock has been deteriorating, approximately one month earlier than normal. This will likely reduce milk production, consumption, and income levels during the dry season (June to September), particularly in major livestock-producing areas such as in the Imbo plain.

    Due to an increased supply of food on local markets and a reduction in consumer demand during the harvest period, staple food prices across most markets and commodities in June were in decline. However, prices generally remained well above the five-year average. For example in Bujumbura, June bean prices declined 14.3 percent compared to last month but remained 14.0 percent above the five-year average. Similarly in Ngozi, a key market for the Plateaux Humides zone where the last season ‘A’ harvest was below-average, bean prices declined 12.8 percent compared to last month but up 34 percent compared to the average.

    During a normal year, food prices decline in July and August and then begin to increase in September when market demand for seeds relating to season ‘A’ planting activities coincides with the depletion of household food stocks. Food prices then generally continue to increase until late December when the first season ‘A’ harvests become available. However, due to the reestablishment on June 30, 2013 of a 19 percent tax on several imported staple food items, including cassava flour, beans, rice, maize flour, and Irish potatoes, and a 10 percent increase in the value added tax (VAT) on basic products and services, adopted by the parliament on July 23, 2013, food prices may increase at a slightly faster rate than is seasonally normal over the next several months. This may constrain food access for poor, market-dependant households, particularly in areas where households are highly vulnerable to shocks, such as in the Plateaux Humides zone.

    As of June 2013, UNHCR reported that approximately 166,994 persons of concern (ex. asylum seekers, refugees, returnees, and internally displaced people) were living within Burundi, including an estimated 33,819 returnees who entered the country during the last quarter of 2012 from the Mtabila refugee camp in Tanzania. These populations are currently relying on humanitarian assistance from organizations, such as the World Food Programme (WFP), as they rebuild their livelihoods. However, the WFP – Burundi recently experienced a cut to their July to December 2013 funding, which led to a reduction in their assistance programming. 

    Due to the recent harvest that replenished household and market food stocks, food availability is relatively normal throughout Burundi. As a result, most livelihood zones of Burundi are classified as facing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through December 2013. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (in percentage terms) – May 2013

    Figure 2

    Rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly (in percentage terms) – May 2013

    Source: USGS/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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