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Favorable December rainfall raises prospects of average or above-average 2019 Season A harvests

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • December 2018
Favorable December rainfall raises prospects of average or above-average 2019 Season A harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Rainfall since the second half of November has compensated for early season deficits in September and October. Key informants indicate that most crops are developing normally, and January-February 2019 Season A harvests are likely to be average to above average. This combined with above-average purchasing power is anticipated to support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through at least May 2019.

    • According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), food prices decreased 2.4 percent in rural areas and 1.2 percent in urban areas between October and November. Price declines during this time are atypical and likely the result of above-average June/July Season B and September/October Season C production. Given ongoing average to above-average harvests in lower altitude areas, prices are expected to stay low and purchasing power will likely remain above average throughout the projection period. 

    • The total number of refugees in Rwanda is estimated at 145,000, around 92 percent of whom are residing in camps. Refugees can now freely move out of camps and seek jobs or establish businesses in Rwanda and key informants indicated that some refugees are successfully settling in host communities and securing employment. In-kind assistance has largely been discontinued, though most refugees still receive cash-based food assistance from the WFP. With income from new employment opportunities for some and continued cash-based assistance, it is expected many are experiencing no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1!), though some are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2!).





    Rwamagana and Kayonza Districts in Eastern Province affected by rainfall deficitsIn October-November, localized areas experienced significant rainfall deficits, which resulted in crop moisture stress. With December rains so far above average, concern that the season will fail has subsided. It is likely bean production in these areas will be below average. However, crops with less sensitivity to moisture stress such as cassava and bananas were less affected by the rainfall deficits and their production is anticipated to be average.
    Areas in Southern and Eastern Provinces affected by strong windsThe strong winds in higher elevation areas of those provinces caused about 10-15 percent of climbing beans’ flowers to fall off. However, with high and sustained rainfalls in December, seasonal crops, including climbing beans, are maturing normally.If the rainfall remains average to above average until February 2019, as currently forecast, overall bean production will likely be average, despite these early season losses. The dwarf varieties grown in lower altitude areas of the provinces promise an average to above average production, which should compensate for losses in climbing beans production.   


    Although rainfall was erratic and below average in mid-November, particularly in Rwamagana and Kayonza Districts of Eastern Province, increased rainfall in early December has compensated for early season deficits. Total rainfall to date is now average or above average (Figure 1). If the current forecast for average rainfall through February 2019 holds, total seasonal rainfall will be average to above average.  

    Most crops, particularly Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, maize, and peas have benefitted from heavy late-season rainfall and national production of these crops is expected to be average or above average. Beans will be ready for harvest by the end of December, and average production is expected; however, in Southern and Eastern Provinces, strong storms forced 10-15 percent of the flowers of bean crops to fall off the vines, and some isolated crop losses are likely in these provinces.

    Staple food prices remained relatively low in November, the peak of the lean season and a time when prices are typically high. According to NISR, the price of a typical food basket atypically decreased from October to November, by 2.4 percent in rural areas. This is due primarily to low staple food prices driven by currently abundant supplies of vegetables across the country, sweet potato in the south and east, Irish potato in the north, cassava and banana in the west, and food reserves from the average or above-average preceding two seasons. Key informants indicated that the exception to this is the price of beans, which despite being near average have been increasing in recent months, likely as a result of below-average Season B bean production. The increasing price of beans may encourage some poor households to substitute protein-rich beans with cheaper sweet potatoes and vegetables. Overall, though, food prices are likely to decline in January as the bulk of Season 2019 A harvests start to hit the markets.

    Most poor households in Rwanda are expected to face no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) through at least May 2019, supported by normal production, above-average purchasing power, and continued normal access to typical income-earning opportunities.

    Refugees in Rwanda are now able to freely pursue job opportunities and start businesses in Rwanda, and they are also gradually being integrated in the national social programs. In-kind assistance has largely been discontinued, though most refugees still receive cash-based food assistance from WFP. Key informants indicated that some previous camp-based refugees are now settling in host communities and securing employment. With new sources of income and cash-based assistance, it is expected many will face no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1!) with the support of assistance, though some may be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). These outcomes are expected to persist through May. Presidential elections in the DRC may lead to an influx of asylum seekers to Rwanda from the North and South Kivu Provinces bordering Rwanda and Burundi.


    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Rainfall totals every ten days in Eastern Rwanda, CHRIPS prelim

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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