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Season C harvests increase food availability, but staple food prices remain high

  • Key Message Update
  • Rwanda
  • September 2022
Season C harvests increase food availability, but staple food prices remain high

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • An average Season C harvest in Southern Province, coupled with carryover food stocks from previous harvests and interseason crops (bananas, cassava, and sweet potatoes), continue to maintain adequate food and income for most households, driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas in September. The start of the short rains (October-December) has also enhanced access to milk and income from agricultural labor. However, high food and non-food prices continue to constrain household purchasing power, which will likely sustain an elevated number of rural households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the rural Consumer Price Index (CPI) report shows the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased in August by 23.6 and 1.6 percent on an annual and monthly basis, respectively.  

    • While Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to be sustained from October to January, some households (less than 20 percent of the population in any given area) will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the main lean season, which starts in October. Most rural households deplete their own-produced food stocks at this time and will primarily purchase their food. To cover the elevated costs of food, farm inputs, and other essential items, households will likely increase the share of food stocks that they typically sell. The impact of tensions between Rwanda and the DRC on cross-border trade is also a concern in the Southern and Western provinces, where trade is a key source of income. On the other hand, a positive start to the short rains raises prospects for a better Season A 2023 harvest, though high agricultural input prices are likely to suppress cultivated area and yields.  

    • While the number of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) households will likely remain below the 20 percent threshold, high food, fuel, and transportation prices are expected to compromise purchasing capacity among the urban poor in Kigali City. Amid a slowdown in economic activity, the latest NISR data show a rising trend in the unemployment rate from February (16.5 percent) to May (23 percent), though this was partly linked to a seasonal decline in labor activities.  Additionally, the urban CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 29.1 and 0.3 percent on an annual and monthly basis, respectively.

    • Most of the 127,323 refugees and asylees in Rwanda are expected to remain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), with humanitarian food assistance likely preventing deterioration to worse outcomes. Notably, Rwanda received 101 asylum seekers, who have settled in Gashora Transit Center, on August 31st, 2022. Although most refugee and asylee households are earning income from informal petty trade and labor and receive cash transfer values intended to cover 14-27 days of their food needs, rising food prices also tend to erode the purchasing power of the cash transfer amount. According to WFP's monthly food price monitoring report in July 2022, the price of the minimum food basket increased by 11 and 71 percent on a monthly and annual basis, respectively.

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