FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Above‑average aggregate cereal production expected in 2021 due to abundant seasonal rains
Erratic distribution of rains affects production of pulses in 2021
Prices of pulses higher than year earlier
Food security substantially improving across country
Above‑average aggregate cereal production expected in 2021
Harvesting of the “2021B” main season crops, accounting for about 50 percent of the annual crop output, was concluded in late July. The February‑May “long‑rains” season was characterized by a timely onset and by abundant precipitation in February, with rainfall amounts estimated at 20‑60 percent above average. Below‑average rainfall amounts in March and April were followed by abundant rains in May, estimated at 30‑60 percent above average. Overall, cumulative rainfall amounts between February and May was estimated at 10‑25 percent above average. Planted area increased compared to the previous seasons, mainly in State‑owned lands and farmers’ cooperatives.
The above‑average seasonal precipitation was beneficial for crop establishment and development, with a positive impact on yields (ASI map). Overall, the “2021B” season crop production is estimated at 10‑15 percent above average. However, in the lowlands of eastern Rutana, Ruyigi and Cankuzo provinces, localized production shortfalls of beans are recorded as pulses are particularly vulnerable to erratic distribution of rainfall.
The above‑average precipitation triggered flooding in several areas. In April and May, the rising level of Lake Tanganyika and the overflow of the Rusizi River displaced about 40 000 people in Bujumbura Rural, Bujumbura Mairie, Rumonge and Makamba provinces and resulted in localized crop losses.
Harvesting of the “2021A” season crops, representing about 35 percent of the yearly crop production, was concluded in March, with about a one‑month delay due to the late onset of the September‑December 2020 “short‑rains”. The rainy season was characterized by above‑average cumulative rainfall amounts, but precipitation had an irregular spatial and temporal distribution. Total crop production was estimated to be 5‑10 percent above average, driven by ample harvests of maize, tubers and bananas, while the output of beans was estimated at 10 percent below average. In northern Kirundo and Muyinga provinces, below‑average rainfall in November affected beans, maize and sorghum at critical flowering stage, seriously affecting yields and resulting in significantly reduced local harvests.
The harvest of the minor “2021C” season crops, accounting for about 15 percent of the yearly crop production, will start in September in marshlands and irrigated areas. As the abundant rains in May adequately recharged water sources, vegetation conditions are generally favourable and an above‑average crop production is expected.
The 2021 aggregate cereal production is tentatively forecast at almost 440 000 tonnes, about 2 percent down from 2020 and about 8 percent above the average of the previous five years.
Prices of pulses higher than year earlier
According to the Institut de statistiques et d'études économiques du Burundi (ISTEEBU), the year‑on‑year increase of the Consumer price index (CPI) was estimated in June at 9.1 percent, while the CPI of food commodities increased by 12.2 percent on a yearly basis. The yearly increase of the CPI of bread and cereals was estimated at a low 3.2 percent due to adequate market supplies following above‑average harvests. By contrast, the year‑on‑year CPI of legumes, accounting for the largest share of the food basket and among the main staples, increased by 16 percent on a yearly basis as a result of production shortfalls.
Food security conditions improving following above‑average “2021B” harvest
According to the latest IPC analysis, 1.04 million people (9 percent of the analyzed population) are estimated to be severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3: [Crisis] and Phase 4: [Emergency]) in the period June‑September 2021. This figure, which includes 988 000 people in IPC Phase 3: (Crisis) and 56 000 people in IPC Phase 4: (Emergency), is about 35 percent lower than the estimate for the period April‑May 2020. The substantial improvement of the food security situation is due to the above‑average “2020B” season harvest, which increased food availability and improved access. Major improvements are reported in the Northern Lowlands Livelihood Zone, where a reduced 2021A harvest was gathered in early 2021. The food security situation also improved in the Inbo Plains Livelihood Zone, although about 56 000 people still face IPC Phase 4: (Emergency) levels of food insecurity as a result of the livelihood losses caused by floods in April‑May.
The current food insecure caseload is one of the lowest on record since 2017 mainly due to the introduction of social safety net programmes and agricultural production promotion programmes through subsidized sales of fertilizers and improved seeds. However, the persisting negative impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic continues to affect food security, especially in border areas, where the income of poor households who depend on cross‑border petty trade and labour opportunities has been severely affected by the closure of the borders and by mandatory COVID‑19 tests with prohibitively high costs.
Concerns exist for the food security situation of 125 000 IDPs, mainly displaced by natural disasters, and of about 80 000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, due to their limited livelihood opportunities and need to rely on humanitarian assistance.
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