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The Spread of Cassava Brown Streak Disease threatens crops in Southern Province

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Rwanda
  • September 2014
The Spread of Cassava Brown Streak Disease threatens crops in Southern Province

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Partner
    NUR
    Key Messages
    • Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) has spread across at least 15,000 hectares of cassava in the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zone. Kamonyi and Ruhango districts are the worst affected by CBSD which destroyed hundreds of hectares of crops in recent weeks. 

    • Abbreviated negative rainfall anomalies slowed progress of agricultural activities in September, interrupting access to income for poor households. Rainfall forecasted for early October should improve soil moisture and agriculture activities are expected to resume.   

    • Food prices in August in the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zone, Bugesera Cassava Zone, and Eastern Semi-Arid Agro-pastoral Zone were between 15 to 20 percent higher than last year. In some markets, staple food prices were 30 to 40 percent above the two-year average. Above-average prices are expected to reduce access to food for poor households, who typically increase market reliance during the October to December lean season. 


    Current Situation

    Season A planting of beans and maize is almost complete in most areas of the country following the early onset of effective rains in August. Below-average rainfall during the second dekad of September interrupted planting in some areas. Drier conditions throughout the month in the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming, Bugesera Cassava, and Eastern Semi-arid Agro-Pastoral livelihood zones delayed planting in these areas. Short-term forecasts indicate normal rainfall in the coming weeks and planting is expected to continue in these areas through October.

    A recent outbreak of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) has reportedly affected more than 15,000 hectares of cassava crops in Kamonyi and Ruhango districts in Southern Province. The Rwanda Agriculture Board confirmed infection of cassava crop in the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zone and in Bugesera Cassava Zone. The spread of CBSD to other Southern Province districts of Gisagara, Huye, and Nyanza—although on a much smaller scale—has raised concerns about Season A crop losses. 

    Reductions in area planted have caused a decline in demand for agricultural labor in food insecure areas. Labor demand typically peaks with September/ October planting as Season A is Rwanda’s most important agricultural season. Many poor households rely on agricultural labor this time of year offset increased market dependence during the lean season. Labor migration is common during this time and coincides with high labor demand.   However, Season B production deficits reduced household seed surpluses for Season A planting. As a result, many farmers are cultivating smaller plots, reducing labor opportunities for the poor. To cope with reduced income opportunities, laborers have increased migration and travel further distances in search of labor opportunities. For example, heads of households from Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zone where last season’s production deficits were among the highest in the country, heads of households have reportedly begun migrating as far as Ngoma and Nyagatare along the eastern border in search of labor opportunities.  Cross-border labor migration to Uganda has also increased.

    Increased imports from Uganda and Tanzania kept maize and bean prices stable from July to August. However, bean prices remain higher than last year and above the two-year average. In Birambo, August bean prices were nearly 25 percent higher than last year and 34 percent above the two-year average, and 20 percent and 45 percent higher in Nyakarambi compared to last year and the two-year average, respectively.  Staple food prices in most markets in the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming, Bugesera Cassava, and Eastern Semi-arid Agro-Pastoral livelihood zones were on average, 15 to 20 percent higher in August compared to last year.

    Government-led food for work programs targeting very poor households with food deficits in Gashora, Ngereruka, Kamabuye, and Rweru sectors of Bugesera Cassava Zone temporarily improved food access for 12,000 households since mid-August. Participating households received two kilograms of beans and three kilograms of maize per day.  However, the program only lasted for 20 days and poor households will face difficulties accessing food during the October to December main lean season when many poor households will likely only eat one meal a day. 


    Updated Assumptions

    Most assumptions from the Rwanda Food Security Outlook for July to December 2014 remained unchanged since August. 


    Projected Outlook through December 2014

    Poor households in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral, Bugesera Cassava, as well as the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming livelihood zones continue to experience the impact of Season B production deficits and earlier-than-normal food stock depletion. Households in these areas will continue to face difficulties accessing food and will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity for the duration of the October to early December main lean season. 

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar of 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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