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Poor households are accessing food normally after season ‘B’ harvest in June

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • July 2013
Poor households are accessing food normally after season ‘B’ harvest in June

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Due to an average, season ‘B’ harvest in June, households are accessing food normally through their own crop production. This includes areas of northwestern Burundi where plant diseases and above-average rainfall levels caused localized crop losses. Normal food availability and access are resulting in all areas of the country currently facing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. 

    • Due to weak market demand from households and improving market supplies from the recent harvest, staple food prices are declining seasonally. However, the recent reestablishment of a food tax on several staple food items on June 30, 2013 is expected to cause price increases over the next several months. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • While price for beans and cassava flour, two important staple foods for poor households, followed normal seasonal trends in May, they remained 16 to 45 percent above the five-year average.
    • Due to the government’s restoration of a food tax on several staple commodities, food prices are expected to increase at a rate slightly faster than the seasonal trend 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, planting activities for season ‘C’ production, which includes vegetables, beans, and sweet potatoes, are near completion, 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.

    May/June rainfall levels were 20 to 50 percent below average and as a result, pasture and water availability for livestock will deteriorate 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.

    As early green harvests from season ‘B’ began to replenish market stocks, staple food prices across most markets and commodities in May were stable or slightly in decline as compared to April 2013. However, prices generally remained well above the five-year average. For example in Bujumbura, May bean prices declined 3 percent compared to last month but remained 21 percent above the average. Similarly in Ngozi, a key market for the Plateaux Humides zone where the last season ‘A’ harvest was below-average, bean prices were stable compared to last month but up 37 percent compared to the five-year average. During a normal year, prices decline in July and August and then start increasing in September when market demand for seeds relating to season ‘A’ planting activities coincides with the depletion of household food stocks. Then these higher prices generally continue 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, prices may rise at a slightly faster rate than is seasonally normal. This may constrain food access for poor, market-dependant households, especially in areas where households are highly vulnerable to shocks, such as in the Plateaux Humides zone.

    Opportunities for casual labor, an important source of income for poor households, are mostly focusing on harvesting and post-harvesting handling activities at this time. In marshland and lowland areas, normal season ‘C’ planting activities are also providing additional labor opportunities. Wages are relatively normal for this time of the year, ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 BIF per day.

    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. This includes 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 has recently reported a cut to their July to December 2013 funding, which may lead 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. Despite moderately above-normal food prices, these replenished food stocks and near-normal income levels, will enable households to access food without significant difficulties, either through their own crop production or through market purchases. As a result, all regions of Burundi are classified as facing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during the entire outlook period (July to December 2013). 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    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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