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Season A harvests and timely Season B planting improve food security prospects

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • February 2019
Season A harvests and timely Season B planting improve food security prospects

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Total Season 2019A production of maize, beans, and semi-perennials is likely to be above average at the national level. However, localized areas across the country, particularly in Busoni, Bugabira and Kirundo Communes in Kirundo Province, have significant maize and bean production shortfalls due to a dry spell at critical growth stages.  Affected households are currently receiving humanitarian food assistance, which is enabling Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes, but they would likely experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the absence of assistance at the peak of lean season in April. Although most other areas are currently in Minimal (IPC Phase 1), at least 20 percent of the population is likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the leans season until the Season B harvests are well underway. Season B planting is expected to be completed on time in March, and forecast average March to May rains are likely to lead to average June-August harvests.

    • Household food access remains generally stable or has improved, except in areas that experienced severe production shortfalls. According to key informants in Busoni and Bugabira communes, staple food prices remained generally stable from November 2018 to January 2019. From February to March, however, cereal and bean prices increased by about 10 percent. The price of banana and roots and tubers remained stable or declined. Demand for unskilled labor has remained relatively stable, leading to a slight increase in wages compared to one year ago.

    • Humanitarian food assistance and livelihoods programs continue to enable Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes for vulnerable IDP, Congolese refugee, and Burundian returnee populations. No major change in the numbers of IDPs and Congolese refugees is anticipated; however, the number of returnees is likely to increase in coming months as nearly 20,000 refugees in Tanzania have registered for voluntary return and are expected to come back home within 2019. Current population figures are estimated to be 142,000 IDPs, 43,000 refugees in camps, and 52,000 returnees. In the absence of assistance, many of these households would be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    Localized areas in Kirundo and Bubanza provinces due to late, erratic and insufficient rainsA three-week dry spell in January and February occurred at critical stages of beans and maize development, leading to depressed crop production. Their impact was negligible for crops with better drought tolerance such as cassava, banana, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables. 90 percent of affected households are targeted to receive humanitarian food assistance equivalent to 1900 kilocalories per person per day. According to WFP, humanitarian food assistance to households affected by crop production shortfalls is planned and likely to continue at current levels, consisting of two distributions per month for three months. Season B planting will likely be completed by mid-March, despite late harvests of season A crops. Based on the current rainfall forecast for Season 2019 B, the beans harvest in May-June and the continuous production of bananas, cassava and sweet potatoes will likely be above average.  



    The Season 2019A rains started late and were occasionally poorly distributed both temporarily and spatially from October to January. Cumulative totals were more than 105 percent of average across the country from October to December, according to satellite-derived CHIRPS data. However, a three-week dry spell occurred in January and February leading to anomalies of -25 to -50 mm, which significantly impacted the development of late-planted crops in Kirundo Province in localized areas of Busoni, Bugabira and Kirundo Communes. It is worth noting that in Burundi, the temporal and spatial distribution of rains is generally more important for crop production than total precipitation amounts. Both 2018A and 2019A Seasons rains were not perfectly distributed (Figure 1). According to Ministry of Agriculture informants in Kirundo and Muyinga provinces, Season 2019A maize and beans production was below Season 2018A production by an estimated 6 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, whereas the production of semi-perennial crops such as bananas, cassava, and sweet potatoes outperformed that of 2018. In terms of cereal equivalents, season 2019A outperformed Season 2018A at national level.


    Looking forward to Season 2019B, cumulative March to May rainfall is most likely to be above average, according to the NOAA/CPC and ICPAC forecasts. In Burundi, a timely onset of the rains triggered early planting in some areas and is likely to be completed by mid-March, allaying previous concerns that delayed Season A harvests could delay Season B planting. As a result, above-average yields are likely, and agricultural labor demand is likely to be sustained at normal levels throughout the season.


    Given normal production and food availability, staple food prices are generally average across the country, with the exception of areas with production shortfalls. According to key informants in Kirundo province, the prices of staples had remained stable until January, including in the areas where crop production severe shortfalls were anticipated. However, food prices increased by more than 10 percent from January to February, in line with seasonal cycles. Beans saw the highest price increase of about 12 percent, which is likely to continue until season B harvests. Cereal price increases are likely to be moderate until the harvests, as ongoing rice production in marshlands is less dependent on rainfall distribution. Drought-tolerant crops prices are stable or decreasing due to steady market supply.


    The main income sources of the poor, including crop sales, sales of small ruminants and poultry, and casual labor, are currently available at normal to above-normal levels. Labor wages have increased since last year in Kirundo and Muyinga provinces, reportedly due to increased labor demand. With Season 2019A harvests average to above average, food availability is generally improving across the country, and food prices are expected to follow seasonal trends. As a result, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are likely until April, though approximately 10 percent of the population in Kirundo are expected to be in Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) with humanitarian assistance continuing to prevent worse household-level outcomes. During the peak of the lean season in April and May, when household food stocks are at their lowest and food prices seasonally high, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) are likely. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to be sustained until the Season B harvest is well underway in June and July. With the availability of season B in June and C harvests in September, most households are likely to improve back to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes by August through September.


    The assistance currently provided to IDPs, refugees and returnees allows them to maintain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity outcomes. Facilitating the return and installation of some 20,000 refugees waiting for assisted return will further strain the resources of humanitarian organizations and likely result in an increased number of special population categories of concern. Should planned assistance not be adequately funded, activities in school feeding, child nutrition, livelihoods interventions for IDPs, and food assistance to refugees would be cut. As a result, many of these households would deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    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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