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Below-average food stocks and start of season B for most households

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Rwanda
  • March 2014
Below-average food stocks and start of season B for most households

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through June 2014
  • Partner
    NUR
    Key Messages
    • Season A harvests are complete across most of the country. Production of beans, maize, Irish potato, and wheat were generally 20-30 percent below normal due to poor rainfall performance.
    • Food prices, especially for maize and beans are rising atypically and will peak in April at the height of the lean season. In Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral and Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming zones, where Season A production was 50 percent below normal, household food stocks will be exhausted one month early and poor households will face Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) from April to early June.
    • The start of Season B is on-time following the onset of rains in late February. Above-normal rainfall, forecast for western livelihood zones will likely result in an increased potential for erosion, flooding, and crop damages in mid-April to May while the eastern parts of the country are likely to face dry spells.

    Current Situation
    • Season A production: Season A harvests are complete except in Rutsiro, Ngororero and Karongi zones where cooler climate conditions cause later harvests.  Season A production of beans, maize, Irish potato, and wheat were generally 20-30 percent below normal country-wide due to poor seasonal rainfall intensity and temporal distribution. Production was 50 percent below normal in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral and Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming zones. A combination of late seed distribution by government service providers which delayed planting and overall poor seed quality resulted in poor maize crop performance.  Atypically high levels of plant pests and diseases also contributed to below-average harvests in Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming and Northern livelihood zones.  
    • Start of season B: The start of Season B began on-time following the onset of rains in late February. Seed purchases increased seasonally but at atypically high prices because of lower supply from below-average carryover stocks from the last harvest. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’s Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and the Rwanda Meteorology Service (RMA) forecast near-normal to above-normal rainfall in the western and northern livelihood zones. Increased rainfall will heighten the potential for flooding, erosion and crop damages from mid-April to May. Near-normal to below-normal rainfall is forecasted in eastern parts of the country which could result in crop water stress at flowering to grain-filling stages.
    • Labor incomes: Households have begun typical land preparation and planting for agricultural Season B. These activities, in addition to final Season A harvesting, provide poor households with agricultural labor opportunities and cash income. Wages are seasonally average, ranging from 700 to 1,000 RWF per day. Apart from the current on-farm employment across the country, poor households earn cash income from labor opportunities in mining, tea plantations and pruning of tea leaves in western livelihood zones. Seasonal income from these activities enables most households to adequately cover food and non-food needs.   
    • Livestock conditions and incomes:  Normal water and pasture resources country-wide have sustained good animal body conditions.  Herd size has grown thanks to favorable pasture and water resources during the September to February rains. Animal and livestock product prices have remained stable and incomes from livestock constant. Prices of local cattle breeds range from 160,000 to 220,000 RWF. Jersey cows and other improved breeds sell for200,000 to 300,000 RWF per cow. Earnings from livestock products are an important source of income for poor households since landholding are generally very small (less than 0.5 hectares).
    • Markets and prices: Beans, maize and Irish potato harvests from Season A have supplied markets in most livelihood zones despite production shortfalls. Production deficits caused an atypical rise in bean prices in February, especially in Rwagitima market in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral zone. Bean prices increased 18 percent since January and Irish potato prices rose 25 percent on the same market.  Although bean prices remained stable in Kimironko Market in Kigali City compared to last month, prices are 12 and 26 percent higher than last year and two-year average, respectively. Irish potato prices increased unseasonably in almost all markets in February compared to January because stocks are depleting earlier than normal. Despite below-average maize production, maize prices are relatively stable or declining due to continued market supply from late harvests. Compared with the rest of the country, food prices are also high in Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming zone. These high food prices will negatively affect the purchasing power of poor households until the next harvests in June 2014.

     


    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has affected some of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for January to June 2014. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the January to June 2014 Food Security Outlook.

    • Rainfall: IGAD’s ICPAC and the RMA forecast Season B rainfall to range from normal to above normal in western and northern parts of the country which could result in crop damages, accelerated erosion and flooding. Normal to below- normal rains are forecast for the eastern part of the country which will likely cause enhanced dry spells and crop- water stress.
    • Food prices: Season A harvest were 20-30 percent below normal. This production deficit, combined with two consecutive bad harvests caused an atypical rise in food prices which are expected to peak in April, one month earlier than normal. The highest price increases are expected in the Eastern Semi-arid Agro-pastoral Zone and Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zone. Households in these areas will exhaust food stocks from own production earlier than normal and become dependent on market purchases for food when prices are highest. Inflows of staple foods from Tanzania and Uganda will increase but in insufficient quantities to offset domestic production shortfalls.

     


    Projected Outlook Through June 2014

    Most households rely on stocks from own production during the January to March Season A post-harvest period. However, as a result of below-average production in Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral and Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zones, household food stocks are depleting one month earlier than normal. As a result, between April and June, most poor households will be completely market dependent to access food, atypically compared to a normal year. Households in these areas will be unable to meet basic food and non-food needs without engaging in unsustainable coping strategies. As a result, these areas will face Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) from April to early June. In June, most households will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity with season B harvests in June 2014.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in 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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