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Above-average prices and crop diseases reduce food availability and access

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • October 2012
Above-average prices and crop diseases reduce food availability and access

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The season 'B' harvests were poor in some areas, causing poor households to deplete their food stocks earlier than usual. These households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity levels until the season 'A' harvests in late December-January. Crisis levels (IPC Phase 3) are present in the Dépressions de l’Est, the Hauts Plateaux Humides (Buyenzi and Kilimiro), rural integrated villages, and refugee camps. After the harvests, most households throughout the country will face Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). 

    • High demand and low supply for staple foods on most markets have caused prices to be 10-40 percent higher than last year. This has reduced food access for poor households who are dependent on market purchases at this time.

    • The season 'A' rains were erratic in September, especially in the southeastern zones, which delayed planting activities. The prevalence of crop diseases has also been above-average in these areas. However, normal production levels are expected at this early point in the season, given current forecasts for normal rainfall for the remainder of the season.





    • Erratic rainfall in September has delayed planting activities in some areas, especially in Buragane and Kumoso.
    • Despite a late start to the season, forecasts suggest normal rainfall this season.


    • The prevalence of banana Xanthomonas wilt, cassava mosaic, and cassava brown streak has been above-average this year.
    • These diseases will be present and will continue to damage crops in some areas.


    • Staple food prices are 10-40 percent higher than last year's average and are increasing.
    • During the harvests in January, prices are expected to decline normally.


    • No current refugee anomalies of concern.
    • The Mtabila camp in Tanzania, which houses 36,000 Burundi refugees, will close in December.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    Although the onset of the rains was earlier than usual this season, the temporal distribution of rainfall during the month of September was poor. For much of the country, rainfall was also below-average during the last ten days of September (Figure 2). Consequently, many farmers have not finished planting their crops, especially in the southeastern regions. In a normal year, farmers finish planting between mid-September and mid-October. Banana Xanthomonas wilt, cassava mosaic, and cassava brown streak are also more prevalent this year than normal and are threatening crop production, especially in the Bururi, Makamba, Rutana, Cibitoke, and Bujumbura provinces. However, if rainfall levels are normal for the remainder of the season, as forecasted by the National Meteorological Agency, season 'A' harvests are expected to be average.

    Although national crop production levels during the 2012 season 'B' were similar to last year, some areas of the country experienced below-average harvests. In these areas, household food stocks after the harvests were unusually low, lasting on average less than four months. Since season 'A' harvests occur six months after season 'B', many households have currently depleted their food stocks and are dependent on market purchases until the end of the year, especially in the Hauts Plateaux Humides and the Dépressions de l'Est. This increased demand, along with low supply, has caused staple food prices at many markets to rise to levels well above last year and the 5-year average (10-40 percent). Given that wages from casual labor, the most important economic activity for the poor, have remained at normal levels, the increased food prices have caused the purchasing power of poor households to decline, reducing these households' access to food. Until the harvests in late December, poor households will engage in various coping strategies, such as eating less of their preferred foods or reducing their number of meals. The season 'C' harvest (September through December in marshland areas) is ongoing. However, season 'C' production only makes up 15 percent of Burundi's total crop production and is not expected to offset the effects of the low household food stocks.

    Due to below-normal household stocks in many areas and above-average food prices across the country, most households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the end of December. When the 2013 season 'A' harvests occur in late December to January, households and markets will replenish their food stocks. At markets across the country, demand for food staples will be reduced, and food prices are expected to decline. Households with landholdings will then rely on their own food stocks and poor landless households will be able to access food via market purchases. From January through March 2013, most households are expected to be food secure (IPC Phase 1).  

    Dépressions de l’Est, Hauts Plateaux Humides, rural integrated villages, and refugee camps

    Households in the Dépressions de l’Est and the Hauts Plateaux Humides, as well as returnees living in rural integrated villages and refugees in camps, are particularly vulnerable to shocks due to several factors, such as small or no landholdings, infertile soils, and a lack of access to sustainable livelihoods. As a result, poor households in these areas have been most greatly impacted by the localized, poor season 'B' harvest and crop diseases. These households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until the harvests in late December. After the harvests, these households will be food secure (IPC Phase 1).

    The Tanzanian government has also announced that the Mtabila camp, which currently houses approximately 36,000 Burundi refugees, will be closing at the end of the year. Preparations in Burundi are currently being made in terms of temporary housing, land, and food aid to assist households who may return to Burundi when the camp closes. Households returning from Tanzania will be more likely to have difficulties accessing basic food needs.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall estimates as a percent of the short-term average, September 21-30, 2012

    Figure 2

    Rainfall estimates as a percent of the short-term average, September 21-30, 2012

    Source: IRI/LDEO

    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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