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Average cropping season underway, improving production prospects

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • October 2016
Average cropping season underway, improving production prospects

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The first rains of Season A in mid-September were abundant, prompting most farmers to plant. Rains later became erratic in October, which caused stress to early planted crops. However, the rains resumed in the last dekad (10 days) of October, likely minimizing the need for extensive replanting. Government interventions have improved food security outcomes for poor households in Nyagatare and Kayonza districts, so FEWS NET expects less are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Besides the Burundian refugees, the majority of the population remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    • The seasonal forecast points to average cumulative total rainfall, but in drought-prone, low altitude areas of eastern and southern Rwanda, rainfall might not perform in the same way, affecting crop production and pasture conditions. Given typically higher rainfall amounts in other areas of the country, an average Season A harvest in December is likely. With near-average rains projected for Season B beginning in mid-February 2017, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes through May are expected across Rwanda. 

    • The prices of food staples have been rising since April 2016, especially in rural areas where markets are not as well-supplied as in urban areas. In September 2016, the prices of non-cereal staples were nearly 20 percent higher than a year ago. As the lean season peaks in November, this is expected to reduce purchasing power and access, and more poor households may temporarily face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. However, prices are likely to ease in December with the harvest, and more agricultural labor opportunities will begin to be available as the long rainy season begins in Feburary through May.





    ·    The prices of food staples have been rising since April 2016. High food prices reduce access, especially for poor households in rural areas.

    ·    Prices are expected to keep rising until the next harvest in December, and then fall slightly. In March, prices are expected to begin an upward trend, but are likely to start declining again in May.  

    Drought-prone Eastern and Southern areas

    ·    Rains were initially irregular, raising concern that some farmers may have to replant at a time when the reserves of seeds are very low and expensive. Fortunately, rains resumed in late October.

    ·    As of October 27, about 60 percent of the more than 81,500 Burundian refugees live in Mahama Camp, located in Kirehe District, Eastern Province. The refugees face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity, in the presence of humanitarian assistance.

    ·    If rainfall is not evenly distributed over time and space this is likely to affect the Season A harvest, which would reduce food availability through May 2017 since the next harvest will not be until June. 

    It could heighten the effects of what is usually a typical minor lean season from April to May. 

    ·    Due to the ongoing conflict in Burundi, steady and increasing refugee inflows are likely to continue through the entire scenario period, amidst expected humanitarian assistance funding shortfalls.


    The Season A rains (September to December) were largely above normal when they started in mid-September, prompting most farmers to plant. However, later in the month up to late October, rainfall became irregular and total amounts fell below-average during key points in the crop growth cycle in some southern and eastern areas, especially in Nyagatare District, which has been impacted by dry conditions from the below-average March to May rains. In some areas, this may have forced some households to replant when rainfall amounts increased at the end of October. The forecast still points to average cumulative total rainfall through December, so a typical Season A harvest is generally expected throughout most of the country, but there could be areas, especially in the East, where crop production could fall slightly below-average.

    In two drought-prone livelihood zones in Eastern Province, the Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral and the Bugesera, food insecurity is mitigated by ongoing irrigation and marshland development projects, which should allow in some areas for significant yield increases and create more permanent labor opportunities. Along with increased agricultural opportunities for both Season A and B through May 2017, this will help improve poor household incomes, increasing food access. Since July, the Government of Rwanda’s interventions, such as cash and food-for-work, have improved food security in the drought-prone districts of Nyagatare and Kayonza. Many poor households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in these areas, but due to the assistance, FEWS NET no longer projects a Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area classification for these districts.

    According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, food staple prices have continued on an upward trend since April 2016. Food price increases are higher in rural areas where markets are less supplied than in urban areas. The cost of food has risen more sharply than the rate of overall inflation, which further reduces poor households’ purchasing power. In September, annual inflation rose by 5.8 percent, but for a group of food staples, excluding cereals, that account for approximately 10 percent of household expenditures, prices rose 18.8 percent since last year.

    The number of Burundian refugees continues to increase as the political crisis and violence continue. As of October 27, UNHCR reported that more than 81,500 Burundians had arrived since April 2015, with about 410 arrivals since just the beginning of October. About 60 percent of the refugees live in Mahama Camp in Kirehe District in Eastern Province, and according to WFP, are completely dependent on assistance to meet their food needs because they have limited access to livelihood activities. As a result, the refugees are expected to continue in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity, in the presence of humanitarian assistance, through May 2017.

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to persist through the entire scenario period. However, Burundian refugees are likely to continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity outcomes in the presence of humanitarian assistance through May 2017. A small number of poor households in eastern areas, such as Nyagatare District, are also likely to continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.


    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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