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Food availability improves with season 'B' harvest

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Rwanda
  • June 2013
Food availability improves with season 'B' harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
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    Key Messages
    • Due to the ongoing season ‘B’ harvests taking place in most areas of the country, the food security situation of poor households has improved. As a result, poor households in all regions of Rwanda will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food security outcomes through September. 

    • The recent rains increased water and pasture availability and have lead to improved livestock body conditions. Consequently, livestock prices are seasonally high at this time of the year, improving incomes for livestock-rearing households. 

    Current Situation
    • Season 'B' harvests: With the exception of the Northern Province where harvests normally start at the end of June, farming households are currently harvesting their season ‘B’ crops, including maize, beans, Irish potatoes, sorghum, bananas and cassava. Due to favorable rainfall conditions during the recent rainy season (February to May), near-average harvests are expected in most areas of the country. However in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro-Pastoral zone and the northern part of Eastern Agro-Pastoral zone, the rains ended approximately one month earlier than normal, which has reduced crop yields in localized areas.
    • Food sources: Food consumption patterns are normalizing with most households across the country meeting their food needs through their own crop production from the ongoing main harvests. In the Northern Province where the main harvests have not yet gotten underway, households are currently consuming early green harvests.
    • Income sources: In Rwanda, agricultural labor is an important source of income for poor households. Current harvests have increased labor demand, resulting in seasonally high agricultural labor wages at this time of the year. As most households are able to find labor work locally within their own communities, internal labor migration levels are low, although normal levels of migrant labor inflows from Burundi are still taking place. In addition to agricultural labor income, households are beginning to sell their season ‘B’ crop production (such as beans and sorghum), particularly in areas where the harvests start early, such as in the Eastern Agro-Pastoral and Eastern Semi Arid Agro-pastoral zones covering the districts of Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza and Kirehe.
    • Livestock conditions: As the rainy season has just concluded, pasture and water availability is relatively good, improving livestock body conditions during the month of June. These good livestock body conditions, coupled with a seasonally normal drop in livestock supply as ongoing harvests reduce the need for households to generate cash income through other sources, have caused livestock prices to be seasonally high. Due to an earlier outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the region surrounding Gishwati (including the sectors of Cyanzarwe, Busasamana and Mulinga), a regional quarantine, implemented in early May, is still in effect. This has prevented the normal trade of livestock and livestock products from this region to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). However, the impact of this quarantine on household food security is expected to be minimal as households have normal access to food through their own crop production. The outlook for livestock conditions in Rwanda looks favorable, although an early end to the rainy season in localized areas will likely cause pasture and water conditions to deteriorate slightly earlier than normal during the dry season (June to August).
    • Staple food prices: Staple food prices have been following normal seasonal trends with May prices generally declining in areas where early green harvesting activities had begun and increasing in areas where harvesting activities started later. For example, at the Nyakarambi market in the eastern part of the country where green harvests started, maize prices declined by about 10 percent compared to April. Meanwhile, at the Birambo market where harvests had not yet begun, maize prices increased by 10 percent. Prices of perennial crops, which are harvested year-round, have been relatively stable. While varying based on the commodity and market, staple food prices are, in general, similar to or slightly above last year’s levels.
    • Returnees: Due to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Cessation Clause, an estimated 70,000 Rwandan refugees living within neighboring countries will lose their refugee status on June 30, 2013. As a result, most of these refugees are expected to return to Rwanda over the next several months. So far, approximately 15,000 people have returned and have been provided with a three-month ration of food assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP). 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of April to September 2013. A full discussion of the scenario is available at the April to September 2013 Food Security Outlook

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Due to the ongoing harvest, household and market food stocks have been replenished and poor households are expected to be able to meet their food consumption needs through their own production until August. During this time, poor households are only expected to resort to market purchases for substitute food, such as Irish and sweet potatoes. However once household food stocks begin to deplete in September, households will become market dependant. At this time, normal income levels from activities such as agricultural wage labor are expected to be sufficient for households to access food normally. As a result, poor households will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through the end of the outlook period in September. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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