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Atypical rains in August improved income sources for the poor

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Rwanda
  • August 2014
Atypical rains in August improved income sources for the poor

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Partner
    NUR
    Key Messages
    • Atypical rains during the first half of August replenished pastoral resources and livestock body conditions. Land preparation for Season A has also started early, improving income opportunities for poor households.

    • Season B harvests in June were approximately 40 to 60 percent below-normal in Bugesera Cassava Zone, Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral as well as Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming zones reducing market supply. Bean prices in Nyakarambi, Kibungo, and Mukamira markets increased between 10 and 24 percent between June and July.

    • Poor households in these livelihood zones exhausted food stocks in July, two months earlier than normal. Even with some additional opportunities to earn income through agricultural labor, poor households in these areas have increased sales of small animals and assets to compensate for increased expenditure on food from markets.Poor households in these livelihood zones will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from August to November.


    Current Situation
    • Households in Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral, Bugesera Cassava and Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming zones exhausted food stocks in late July, two months earlier than normal reducing access to food. To cope with depleted food stocks and increased expenditure on food, poor households in these livelihood zones have increased sales of small animals and household assets, and in some cases land plots and roofing materials.

    • Due to atypical rainfall during August, households were able to begin land preparation for Season A. In the past, agricultural inputs like seeds and mineral fertilizers were fully subsidized and distributed through the Ministry of Agriculture’s sector-level based service providers. Since the change in policy to reduce subsidies last year, farmers are required to pay 25 percent of the cost of improved seeds from authorized agro-dealers at fixed prices. Given poor Season B harvests in June and increased expenditure on food purchased on markets, poor farmers, especially in areas of concern, may face difficulty accessing seeds.  

    • Agricultural labor opportunities improved in August due to early Season A land preparation activities. The poor are accessing income from labor on tea plantations, construction, and terracing activities under programs such as the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hill side irrigation project (LWH), the Gishwati Water and Land Management project (GWLM), the Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) and Vision Umurenge programs. In most areas of the country, labor wages are currently normal, varying between 700 to 1000 Rwandan Francs (RWF) per day, depending on livelihood zone.

    • Rainfall during the first two dekads of August improved pasture and water availability for livestock. Livestock body conditions and milk production in August were better than expected due to these unseasonal rains. Livestock prices remain stable and consistent with last year. For example, in Mukungu (Karongi), Bigogwe (Nyabihu) and Gatsibo markets in eastern Rwanda, a local cow currently sells for approximately 200,000 RWF, the same price as this time last year. Despite these improvements since July, access to livestock products remains limited for poor households due to reduced purchasing power because of increased expenditure on staple foods.

    • Staple food prices:  Food prices in general varied in July compared to June. Beans prices in Nyakarambi market in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral zone increased by 17 percent from June to July and are 34 percent higher than July of last year and 54 percent above the two year average. In Mukamira, in the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zone, bean prices increased by 24 percent between June and July, and are 11 percent and 24 percent higher than last year and the two year average, respectively. Whole maize prices also increased in most markets across the country.  Irish potato and cooking banana prices seasonably declined in most markets.


    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has changed some of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of July to December 2014 which are discussed below. A full discussion of the scenario is available at the July to December 2014 Food Security Outlook.

    • Income sources: Due to early start of planting activities in August, labor demand will continue to increase during August to September with the ongoing Season A planting activities. It is expected that migration to the South Eastern Plateau Banana zone will increase from October to November due to completion of planting activities in originating areas.

    • Livestock conditions: Normal livestock body conditions are likely between now and December due to replenished water and pasture resources in August across the country, coupled with near normal to above normal rainfall conditions expected in the rest of outlook period. A decline in small livestock prices is also expected between October to December as poor households will likely increase sales of small animals like pigs, chickens, goats and rabbits to finance household food purchases.

    • Season C harvests: Production from Season C in October is expected to be near average due to soil moisture replenishment by rains received in the month of August this year.

    • Season A 2015 production: Season A harvests in December will be average at national level due to expected near normal to above-normal rainfall. The main crops grown during this season will be beans, maize, and Irish potatoes. Due to incentives provided by government is subsidizing agricultural inputs (seeds and fertilizers) in the last couple of years, the current field assessment shows that farmers will sustain the use of agricultural inputs despite the reduced support from the government. Hence given expectations that households will have difficulty purchasing inputs in Bugesera Cassava zone, Eastern Semi Arid Agro Pastoral as well as Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming zones, below average Season A 2015 production is likely in these areas.


    Projected Outlook through December 2014

    Following significant below-average production and depleted food stocks, poor households in the Eastern Semi Arid Agro Pastoral, Bugesera Cassava as well as the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming livelihood zones will continue to face difficulties in accessing food from now to early December as their purchasing power is significantly reduced. In these areas, households will engage in a variety of atypical coping strategies, such as temporary migration to other zones and/or the sale of additional small animals and non food items like chairs, bicycles, roofing materials, and land plots, to meet basic food needs and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from now until November.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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