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Poor harvests reduce food availability in the Northeast

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • July 2014
Poor harvests reduce food availability in the Northeast

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Because of poor Season B rainfall, production in northeast provinces is estimated to be 40 to 60 percent below average. In areas where rainfall was relatively better, production deficits were between 10 to 30 percent.

    • Food availability from own production is below-average for households in areas where harvests were poor. Price variability in some areas has caused poor households to reduce non-food expenditures in order to cover food requirements through market purchase. Areas most affected by crop losses are provinces in the Northeast.

    • Poor households in northeastern livelihood zones are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity from July to November. Food security conditions are expected to improve with the availability of Season A green harvests in December.





    Marshlands in the northeast are drier than normal following Season B rainfall deficits and an early end to rains in April.

    Earlier-than-normal dryness is expected to affect Season C marshland crop performance through September.  However, normal to above-normal rainfall is expected from October through December.


    Projected outlook through December 2014

    Poor rainfall performance in April and May caused below-average Season B production in Burundi. Crop yields varied across the country, with deficits ranging from 10 to 30 percent below average. Harvests were the worst in the Northeast. Maize and beans production in Kirundo, Cankuzo, Gitega, Muyinga, and Rutana provinces was estimated to be 40 to 60 percent below average, with enhanced shortages in localized areas.  Because of relatively better rains, harvests in Ruyigi, Ngozi, Mwaro, Muramvya, Kayanza, Karuzi and Bubanza provinces were near average, with localized crop losses. Poor Season B harvests, which accounts for roughly 50 percent of annual production in Burundi has reduced household access to food from own production. Moreover, staple food prices have not declined as they typically do in markets in the Northeast, decreasing the capacity of poor households to purchase food.

    Typically, June marks the end of minor lean season. With harvesting for Season B, households have access to food from own production and become less market dependent. However, because of this season’s poor harvests, poor households in the northeastern regions of Bweru and Buyogoma (Including Muyinga and Cankuzo provinces) have increased the proportion of household expenditure on food. In June 2014, households reported increasing expenditure on food by 80 and 36 percent compared to last June, indicating considerable reductions in expenditure on non-food needs. The share of food expenditure in other provinces remained relatively stable compared to last year.

    In general, bean prices stabilized in June and were slightly lower than last year, but about 12 percent above the five-year average. Beans prices decreased by 13 percent in Bujumbura from May to June and were 12 percent lower than last year. The price of beans also decreased in Gitega and remained consistent with last year’s prices. In Kirundo, bean prices increased by 12 percent from May to June, but remained below last year’s prices. In Ruyigi market, bean prices decreased by 10 percent in June and were consistent with last year. June bean prices in Kirundo and Ruyigi were 30 and 17 percent higher than the five-year average, respectively.  Maize prices varied across markets in June. In Bujumbura, maize prices remained stable from May to June and were 19 percent lower than last year. In Kirundo, the price of maize increased by five percent from May to June and was 15 percent higher than June 2013. Maize prices increased by 5 percent since May in Ruyigi market and were nearly 50 percent higher in June 2014 compared to last year. Sweet potato prices in most markets were around 20 percent higher than last year and 30 percent above the five-year average. In Kirundo, sweet potatoes were 36 percent higher than last year and 51 percent above the five-year average. In Ruyigi, sweet potatoes prices in June were 49 percent higher than last year and 76 percent above the five-year average.

    For the poor, especially in the rural areas, the most demanded staples are beans and sweet potatoes, the latter being the cheapest among all starchy commodities even if it shows an increasing trend compared to previous month, last year and long term averages.

    Poor households depend on market purchase as a main source of food, even in post-harvest periods because household landholdings are too small to harvest enough crops for household needs.  Expected rises in staple foods prices in areas where Season B harvests were below-average are expected to reduce poor households’ capacity to cover food requirements without reducing non-food expenditures.  Moreover, because poor households have very limited assets and few labor opportunities, they are particularly vulnerable to price variability and have a lower capacity to respond to shocks than better-off households. Field assessment reports indicate atypical migration from Kirundo Province to Bugesera District in Rwanda. Other crisis coping strategies were reported such as sale of productive assets, theft, and begging. This was particularly observed in Bugabira, Nyabikenke, Busoni and Cewe districts.

    Poor households in northeastern livelihood zones, where production deficits are the highest, currently face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. Improvements are expected with the availability of Season A green harvests in December, when poor households are expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. 

    Figures Burundi Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Burundi Seasonal Calendar


    Figure 3


    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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