By NECJOGHA TEAM

KIGALI, RWANDA: An international food security group has said that the above normal rains received in Rwanda have led to a bumper harvest in the country.

“Average to above-average rainfall since mid-April has supported crop growth, without causing flooding and landslides, unlike past seasons. The harvests, which have begun and are expected to peak by mid-June, are likely to be above average across the country. This will be the fourth consecutive season with average to above-average harvests,” says a statement released by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) on Thursday.

FEWS NET which is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity in 28 countries was created by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises.

The statement while quoting the Rwandan National Institute of Statistics, says food prices remained relatively stable between March and April 2019, but should start decreasing by the end of May, as the new harvest comes to market.  

“Food prices are still below five-year averages despite the closure of northern border posts with Uganda in February. The resulting price increases of 15 to 25 percent for Ugandan maize flour, cooking banana, fruits and vegetable oil are encouraging imports from Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa,” the statement says.

According to UNHCR, Rwanda currently hosts around 149,000 refugees. In the first four months of 2019, that number increased by about 260 per month on average, most from Burundi.

The FEWS NET statement explained that due to the delayed 2019 Season A harvests, most Season B crops were planted late and were thus spared by the dry spell of early March, resulting in good development through April.

In April, FEWS NET reported that the price of food staples had increased since March, in part due to the disruption of Ugandan imports following the closure of northern border posts in February. The FEWS NET East African Trade Bulletin reported that imports of Ugandan beans decreased by 52 percent from last quarter 2018 to first quarter 2019. Imports from Tanzania increased but did not fill that gap. Although food prices increased by only 6 percent from February to March 2019, according to the National Institute of Statistics, the prices of Ugandan maize flour and vegetable oil reportedly increased by 15 to 25 percent after border closures.

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