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Harvests increase household food stocks and labor opportunities, easing food insecurity

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • June 2015
Harvests increase household food stocks and labor opportunities, easing food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • The onset of the harvest in mid-June has increased household food supply and labor opportunities in many parts of the country, leading to Minimal Acute Food Insecurity (IPC Phase 1) for many poor households.  However, acute food insecurity persists among some poor households in Bugesera Cassava, Southeastern Plateau Banana and Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zones, following below-average maize, beans, and cassava production. Anticipated early exhaustion of household food stocks could result in an early start to the lean season.

    • The influx of resource-poor refugees from Burundi to Bugesera Cassava and Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral Zones is expected to increase in the coming months.  Displaced populations are likely to reduce labor opportunities and also precipitate early depletion of harvested produce, particularly in areas where refugees are hosted by local households, resulting in heightened food prices and constrained purchasing capacities for poor households.


     

     ZONE

     

        CURRENT ANOMALIES

       

         PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Bugesera Cassava, Southeastern Plateau Banana and Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zones.

    • Maize, bean and soya bean production deficits are anticipated, due to poor start to Season B, coupled with localized flooding.
    • Household food stocks are likely to deplete earlier than usual and could cause heightened food prices in local markets, situated in affected areas.

    Bugesera Cassava and Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral Zones; and Kigali.

    • An estimated 27,300 refugees from Burundi, some hosted by local households, are depleting household food stocks while constraining labor opportunities.
    • Additional pressure on food stocks and labor opportunities is anticipated, due to increased displacements during the lead up to the national elections at the end of June through mid-July.

    Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zone in Muhanga and Ruhango districts.

     

    • Substantial crop damage by the Cassava Brown Streak Virus, resulting in marked reduction in cassava production.
    • Reduced cassava production is likely to accentuate cassava prices, narrowing purchasing capacities for poor households.

    Projected outlook through September 2015

    The resurgence of rainfall in April, after an extended dry spell during most of March, continued through early June resulting in favorable production prospects in many parts of Rwanda (Figure 1).  Overall average to above average Season B harvests are anticipated, attributed to good production in the highlands, especially in the northern part of the country, including the Central Northern Highland Irish Potatoes, Beans and Vegetable Zone.  Harvesting of beans and maize started in June and is expected to continue through July.  Although household labor income from harvesting has increased and households are replenishing food stocks in many areas, production was below average in Bugesera Cassava, Southeastern Plateau Banana and Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zones. Poor households in these areas experienced a combination of shocks including a poor Season B onset, an extended mid-season dry spell and localized flash floods in some areas. Production deficits have resulted in continued dependence on markets for poor households which is expected to ease after the late-planted crop matures and during the peak of the national harvest in July. 

    The Cassava Brown Streak Virus has caused considerable damage to the Season B cassava crop in the Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zone, in Muhanga and Ruhango districts, in particular.  Poor households in these areas have experienced a succession of crop failures over the previous two seasons, leading to significant income losses from both cassava production and declining agricultural labor demand. Subsequently, purchasing capacities for poor households in affected areas in Muhanga and Ruhango districts are compromised and food access will likely become problematic after Season B harvests are exhausted, from August onward.   However, the Government of Rwanda supplied cuttings to a proportion of poor households in the worst affected areas of Bugesera Cassava and East Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Zones, mitigating widespread cassava crop losses.

    While bean prices are up to 10 percent below the 3-year average in early harvesting highland areas, they are 15-30 percent higher than average in markets in the Bugesera Cassava, Southeastern Plateau Banana and Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zones.  Poor agroclimatic conditions during the early and mid-season led to widespread re-planting of key staples and have delayed the harvest, sustaining high bean prices in those zones, likely through mid-July.  Trade with both Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has declined.  Growing civil insecurity in Burundi has disrupted maize, bean and Irish potato exports to Burundi, while on-going harvests in both Gisenyi in Rwanda and Goma in the DRC have reduced price disparities between both countries, limiting trade.  However, maize and bean imports from Tanzania are on-going and are expected to moderate production deficits in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral Zone.

    Livestock prices are rising throughout most areas of the country, due to reduced sales to the market resulting from enhanced household food stocks, at the start of the harvest.  However, low livestock prices have persisted in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral Zone, because livestock trade is restricted, following the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), limiting income for poor households.  

    The number of refugees hosted by households in Bugesera Cassava and Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral Zones is expected to rise significantly, toward the end June to mid-July, as national elections draw closer.  Many resource-poor refugees have added to the labor market and have also caused localized staple food price increases due to the elevated demand.  The impacts of increased labor supply are not immediately visible because of additional labor demand during the harvesting period.  However, poor households are likely to face reduced labor opportunities, after the harvest, if the refugee populations continue to rise in coming weeks and months.

    Food insecurity for most poor households in Rwanda has eased substantially at the start of the harvest.  Subsequently, current Minimal Acute Food Insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected to continue through September.  Nevertheless, poor households in Bugesera Cassava, Southeastern Plateau Banana, Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zones, and Eastern Semi-Arid Agro Pastoral Zones are likely to fall into Stressed (IPC Phase 2), earlier than anticipated in August, because of the adverse impacts of crop losses, influx of refugees, and production and income losses from the FMD in affected livestock areas.

    Figures Figure 1.   Rainfall estimates in the Central Plateau Cassava and  Coffee Zone, compared to the long-term mean

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Rainfall estimates in the Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zone, compared to the long-term mean

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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