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Favorable Season B harvest expected to improve food security

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • June 2017
Favorable Season B harvest expected to improve food security

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The 2017 Season B harvest is ongoing, and crop production is generally average to above-average across the majority of the country. As a result, many poor households, who were previously facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) are likely to face None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity from June to September due to increased food availability and higher incomes. However, in localized areas of Cibitoke, Bubanza, Muyinga, and Kirundo provinces, poor households are likely to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to below-average crop production and it is expected there will still be some worst-affected households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    • The prices of many staple foods have continued to significantly decrease since mid-May, with the initial harvest. For beans, the most traded food commodity in Burundi, prices fell even earlier, which is facilitating better market access. However, recurrent fuel shortages, resulting in higher transportation costs and impeding flows of produce from surplus to deficit areas, are likely to cause food price instability and keep prices above five-year averages despite the favorable harvest. 





    ·    Recurrent fuel shortages continue to increase transportation costs and hamper the flow of staple foods from surplus to deficit areas. As a result, while staple food prices have fallen with the Season B harvest, fuel shortages are preventing further decreases.

    ·    The strained macroeconomic situation, which has reduced imported fuel, is likely to continue through at least January 2018 since peace negotiations between the Government of Burundi and the opposition have stalled. This is expected to keep staple food prices elevated and above five-year averages through January 2018, with likely price increases during the lean season.

    Localized areas of Cibitoke, Bubanza, Kirundo, and Muyinga provinces

    ·    Even though seasonal crops performed poorly in localized areas that experienced below-average rainfall and an early end of season, perennial crops, such as bananas, cassava, and coffee, did not and are contributing to food availability and income. As a result, many poor households are meeting their minimum food needs since they produce a significant portion of what they consume but are still unable to afford essential non-food needs due to limited incomes.

    ·    Given below-average Season B crop production in these areas, many poor households are expected to have difficulty meeting their food needs during the lean season until the Season A harvest. Rising staple food prices and limited income-earning opportunities are likely to constrain purchasing power. The Season C harvest is expected to provide some food availability in September, but many poor households in these areas cannot access the marshlands where this production is concentrated. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected from October 2017 to January 2018.


    Adequate and well-distributed Season B (February to May) rainfall has led to average to above-average crop production across the majority of the country. As a result, due to higher incomes and improved food availability, many poor households, particularly in non-lowland areas, have moved from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to None (IPC Phase 1), which is projected to last until the start of the lean season in September. However, rainfall was below-average and ended prematurely in some localized areas of Cibitoke, Bubanza (reportedly Gihanga Commune), Muyinga, and Kirundo (reportedly Busoni and Bugabira communes), resulting in a second consecutive season of below-average crop production. As a result, many poor households in these areas continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Fortunately, food access has improved due to falling staple food prices. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, in Muyinga, a major bean surplus market near the Tanzanian border, the price of beans decreased from 1250 BIF/kg in mid-April to 700 BIF/kg at the end of May, marking a 44 percent drop.

    Given the current favorable water reserves in the marshlands, Season C land preparation and planting are underway and are providing some income-earning opportunities to poor households that can access these areas. Expectations are that the harvest in September/October will provide average yields, estimated at 15-20 percent of total annual crop production as long as pests, such as Fall Armyworm (FAW), do not destroy crops. There have been some reports of armyworm affecting maize crops during Season B, but the type of armyworm is unclear, and the losses appear to be minimal.

    For the majority of poor households across Burundi, as typical, the lean season (September to early December) is expected to accentuate food insecurity as household stocks decline and staple food prices rise ahead of the Season A harvest. Some poor households previously facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes who are selling a portion of their fresh bean harvest in June at low prices in order to pay off their debts are likely to buy food at higher prices to cover their minimum basic food needs, beginning in September. As a result, it is possible that some poor households are likely to fall again into Crisis (IPC Phase 3), though for most, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are more likely to persist through at least December 2017.

    The September to December rainy season is forecast to be below average, which likely means that agricultural labor opportunities will be lower and the Season A harvest could be below average for the second consecutive Season A. Even though the harvest will replenish food stocks, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will likely continue through January 2018.

    The results of the Burundi Season 2017 A IPC were recently released, and the main drivers of acute food insecurity were cited as being related to Season A rainfall deficits and resulting crop production shortfalls in Burundi as well as Tanzania. The current socio-economic difficulties, such as unemployment, population displacements, high inflation, the foreign exchange shortage, and depreciation of the national currency; as well as plant diseases, and the malaria epidemic, also were contributing factors. In contrast, the third Demographic and Health Report in Burundi that was published in May 2017 suggests that chronic food insecurity instead of acute food insecurity seems to be the main issue in the country since stunting, which is related to chronic malnutrition, was significantly higher than the prevalence of global acute malnutrition.

    According to UNHCR, as of June 19, there were over 415,000 Burundian refugees in the region. UNHCR estimates that as of May, about 7,000 Burundians, who were previously registered as refugees, have voluntarily repatriated. Internally, IOM estimates the number of IDPs at approximately 209,000. IDPs have cited that their reasons for not returning (in order of importance) were damaged or destroyed housing, insecurity or isolation, lack of food, and insufficient income-earning opportunities. Nearly half of them do not intend to return home.

    Through September 2017, due to improved food availability with the harvest, the majority of poor households are expected to face either None (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity, with some smaller numbers of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), particularly in Cibitoke, Bubanza, Muyinga, and Kirundo provinces. With the start of the lean season in September, projected price increases and limited income-earning opportunities are likely to lead to some additional poor households to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until at least the Season A harvest begins in December, but the highest area classification in Burundi through January 2018 is projected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).   


    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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