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Season B harvest increases food availability and reduces food prices

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • June 2021
Season B harvest increases food availability and reduces food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The ongoing 2021 Season B harvest, particularly of Irish potatoes and beans, has significantly increased availability and access to food in rural areas across Rwanda. The harvest also improved market supplies, contributing to reduced national food prices. The improved marketing of agricultural products in the current harvest season relative to 2020/21 Season A, when COVID-19 movement restrictions hampered market accessibility, has increased income access in rural areas. Improved household food availability and access and enhanced income access from crop sales are driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.

    • The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program, which has been constrained by a shortage of vaccines, received an additional 542,900 vaccines in the first week of June 2021.  As the vaccination program progressed and daily cases and fatality rates declined during the first half of June, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) eased restrictions, which resulted in the reopening of businesses, the creation of employment opportunities, and increased income earning opportunities for urban households. However, with an upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the second half of June, the GoR reinstated restrictions. Starting from 23 June 2021, there’s a national curfew from 7:00pm to 4:00am and restricted inter-district movement. Despite this, the increased household purchasing power from improved income access at the start of June, paired with declining food prices is maintaining area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in urban areas.

    • According to UNHCR, as of May 31, 2021, Rwanda hosted 123,024 refugees and asylum-seekers, who are primarily from the DRC and Burundi and rely on humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs including food. However, the refugees have been negatively impacted by a 60 percent reduction in assistance from WFP since March 2021 in addition to last month’s change in targeting to prioritize a full ration for those considered to be most vulnerable. The moderately vulnerable receive a half ration while the least vulnerable do not receive food assistance. Ration reduction/loss and declining income earning opportunities such as closure of small-scale businesses and the loss of casual labor due COVID-19 mpacts are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity within refugee communities.


    Kigali City and Refugee population

    • Reduction/loss of food ration for refugees and the COVID-19 control measures impact economic activity and limit income-earning opportunities and food access among the urban poor and refugees. 
    • Funding shortfalls and COVID-19 control measures are expected to limit access to food and income, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes among urban poor and refugee households respectively.



    The ongoing Season B Irish potato and bean harvest has increased availability and access to food in rural areas. The harvest has also boosted market supplies, contributing to declining food prices across the country especially for beans and Irish potatoes and increasing access in urban areas. On average, the farm gate price of high-quality Irish potatoes decreased from 250-260 RWF/kg in the pre-harvest period to 160 RWF/kg currently. On the other hand, retail bean prices declined from 700-800 RWF/kg pre-harvest to 500 RWF/kg currently. While the overall Season B harvest is projected to be average, bean production in Southern Province is expected to be 25 percent lower than average due to damage caused by excessive rain at the beginning of the rainy season. This is expected to reduce availability resulting in high localized bean prices. In addition, availability of vegetables is reportedly low in the Northern Province due to reduced planting caused by losses incurred in the previous season when marketing was disrupted by COVID-19 movement restrictions. Reduced planting may ultimately increase vegetable prices in the area. Overall, availability of food including Irish and sweet potatoes, cassava, sorghum, beans, bananas, and vegetables is driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.

    542,900 COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the first week of June 2021, boosting supplies for the program which had been facing shortages. The vaccination program and relative reduction in daily infections and deaths that continued to first half of June have led to the easing of some restrictions. The easing of COVID-19 control measures gradually contributed to reopening of businesses and creation of employment opportunities, increased income earning opportunities for urban households.  However, following the upsurge of COVID-19 cases in mid-June, the GoR reinstated some of the previously lifted control measures including national curfew time of 7:00pm to 4:00am and restricted inter-district movement starting from 23 June 2021, there is a risk of limiting and/or reversing existing economic and income-earning opportunities.

    In the Western Province, cross-border trade with DRC remains constrained by COVID-19 regulations that have disproportionally affected small-scale traders who cannot meet the high transport costs and strict border regulations. However, the on-going negotiations between Rwanda and DRC are expected to improve conditions. Overall, declining food prices and relatively improved economic activity have expanded income-earning opportunities and household purchasing power, particularly for urban poor households, maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) area-level outcomes in urban areas.

    According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the May 2021 national consumer price index (CPI) decreased by 2.5 percent compared to April 2021, but increased slightly by 0.4 percent compared to May 2020. In urban and rural areas, the price of 'food and non-alcoholic beverages' decreased by 2.3 and 5.3 percent, respectively, compared to April 2021. May price decreases were driven primarily by decreases in vegetable prices in urban and rural areas, due to increased availability in rural areas and market supply from Season B harvest. Notably, at the national level, prices of ‘Meat’ and ‘Milk, Cheese and eggs’ increased by 6.0 and 3.7 percent, respectively, compared to May 2020 prices, driven by increased cost of animal feed.

    According to UNHCR, as of May 31, 2021, Rwanda hosted 123,024 the refugee and asylum-seekers, primarily from the DRC and Burundi. These households rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their food and other basic needs. Due to funding shortfalls, WFP reduced general food assistance by 60 percent in March 2021 and changed targeting in May 2021 to prioritize assistance for the most vulnerable refugees. While GoR and humanitarian agencies are committed to the improvement of economic opportunities and livelihoods for refugees, these efforts are often hampered by funding shortfalls. In addition, COVID-19 has adversely affected income opportunities, reversing some of the economic gains achieved by some households. With decreasing income-earning opportunities exacerbated by COVID-19 and reduced food assistance from humanitarian agencies, refugee households will likely experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes.


    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    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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