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GIEWS Country Brief: Rwanda 25-May-2021

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Rwanda
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FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

Above‑average aggregate cereal production expected in 2021

Prices of cereals and vegetables at low levels

Food security situation improving following phasing out of some COVID‑19‑related restrictions

Above‑average aggregate cereal production expected in 2021

Harvesting of the “2021B” crops, accounting for about 40 percent of the aggregate cereal output, will commence in June. The February‑May “long rainy season” has been characterized by above‑average precipitation amounts, which benefited vegetation conditions and boosted yields, and an above‑average crop production is expected.

Torrential rains in late April and early May resulted in floods and mudslides in Burera and Gicumbi districts in Northern Province and in Kayonza District in Eastern Province, which affected about 6 500 people and caused damage to infrastructure and localized losses of food stocks and standing crops.

The main “2021A” harvest, contributing to about 60 percent of the aggregate cereal output, was concluded last February and the cereal output is set at a record level. In particular, the production of maize, the main cereal, is officially estimated at about 380 000 tonnes, 15 percent above the average of the previous five years. The high level of production is due to increased plantings, estimated at 293 000 hectares, about 10 percent above the average, and favourable September‑November 2020 “short‑rains” that boosted yields.

Yields of cassava, potatoes and beans, other important staples in the local diet, were also boosted by abundant and well‑distributed “short‑rains” and the output of the “2021A” season is estimated at 23, 10 and 8 percent above the average of the previous five years, respectively.

The 2021 aggregate cereal production is tentatively forecast at a record 771 000 tonnes.

Prices of cereals and vegetables at low levels

In Ruhengeri market, located in Northern Province, prices of maize declined by about 70 percent between December 2020 and April 2021 as the bumper “2021 A” harvest increased market supplies. Prices of maize in April were almost 25 percent below their year‑earlier levels, due to of ample domestic availabilities. Prices of beans declined by 30 percent between December 2020 and March 2021, subsequently increasing by 5 percent in April following seasonal patterns. April prices were around their year‑earlier levels. According to the National Institute of Rwanda (NISR), the year‑on‑year inflation rate was estimated in April at a low 2.4 percent, while food inflation was estimated at just 1.2 percent. The year‑on‑year inflation rate of bread and cereals was ‑5.4 percent, while prices of vegetables, accounting for the largest share of the food basket, declined by 3.9 percent over the last 12 months. By contrast, prices of meat increased by 2.9 percent and those of milk, cheese and eggs rose by 1.9 percent over the same period.

Food security situation improving after phasing out of some COVID‑19‑related restrictions

In late January 2021, the Government decided to re‑introduce several restriction measures to curb the COVID‑19 pandemic, including a lockdown in the capital, Kigali, and restrictions to inter‑district movements.

In April, following a reduction in COVID‑19 cases and the start of the vaccination programmes, these measures were phased out. The ensuing increase of the economic activity has benefited income‑earning opportunities, especially for the poor urban households engaged in casual labour, petty trade and small business.

IPC Phase 1: “Minimal” levels of food insecurity currently prevail across the country, except in areas of Western Province bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the poor households engaged in cross‑border trade are facing IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” levels of food insecurity as they have lost their main source of income following the COVID‑19‑related border closures.

According to UNHCR, as of end‑April the country hosted about 126 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. About 90 percent of the refugees live in camps where they are provided with basic services, cash transfers as well as food and nutrition assistance. In March 2021, the World Food Programme (WFP) was forced to reduce its general food assistance by 60 percent due to funding shortfalls and the reduction in assistance, coupled to limited income‑earning opportunities due to the economic impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic, will likely result in the deterioration of the food security situation of refugees to IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” levels.