Urban consumers in Rwanda to be affected by border closure, rise in food production expected



RWANDA: An international food security group has said that urban consumers in Rwanda are affected by the border closure because of restrictions on imports of some food from Uganda.

“At this time, there are no indications that trade will be restored between Uganda and Rwanda during the outlook period. Urban consumers in Rwanda are likely to have less access to those nutritious foods such as maize, beans, and meat as import restrictions continue,” an update on the food situation in Rwanda released on Saturday June 29th by the Food Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) said.

Further referring to the border closure, the update said that due to the Uganda custom post closure last February, large quantity imports of maize and beans have almost entirely ceased. However, above-average crop production in Rwanda and exports from Tanzania have partially filled the import gap. Although most commodity prices have remained stable, the prices of Tanzanian food imports reportedly increased by 15–25 percent while remaining below average, leading the prices of cheaper substitutes to also increase.

On the prevailing weather situation in Rwanda FEWSNET says that after a delayed start in March, rainfall continued two weeks later than usual, allowing late planted crops to fully mature. Farmers reported average to above-average harvests across the country. Since initial climate forecast for the October 2019 to January 2020 period favors above-average rainfall for Rwanda, harvests around January 2020 are also likely to be average to above-average, supporting Minimal food security outcomes through the first quarter of 2020.

“According to the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics, food prices in rural areas have remained stable and below the five-year average in nominal prices. Food prices are likely to decline following June/July harvests, while income earning opportunities through agricultural labor and construction remain normal. As a result, poor households’ access to food is expected to further improve until at least October,” the update says.

In a projected outlook through January 2020, FEWSNET says that despite starting late in March, rains from early April to early June were above normal, allowing seasonal crops to grow to full maturity. Because of excessive rains in early June in the Eastern and Northern provinces and rainfall deficits in April in Southwestern Rwanda, moisture sensitive crops such as beans and Irish potatoes were moderately damaged resulting in average production.

“However, production of other crops such as maize, cassava, sweet potatoes and banana was above average for the fifth consecutive season. Abundant rains in June also recharged well-water tables in marshlands and Season July-October 2019 C harvests, which contribute 15 percent of annual food production, are likely to also be average to above average. Furthermore, the initial Season 2020 A climate forecasts favor normal to above-normal rainfall, resulting in average to above-average harvests (Season A contributing about 60-65 percent to annual crop production) by December 2019 to January 2020,” the update concludes.


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