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Significant Moisture Deficit Affecting Yields

05 June 2014

RWANDA - Harvesting of the 2014B season (February-July) beans crops is underway, while the cereal harvest is scheduled to begin in June.

The long rainy season (March-May) started on time in early March, but it has been characterized by erratic distribution and below average amounts since early April. By late April, the FAO Agricultural Stress Index (ASI) indicated significant moisture stress in Northern, Eastern and parts of Southern provinces with likely negative effects on yields of sorghum, cassava and sweet potatoes.

The production of the 2014A season crops, harvested in February, is estimated at below-average levels. Significant production shortfalls, up to 50 percent of average, have been reported among subsistence farmers in the highlands of the Western province as well as in agro-pastoral areas in the Eastern province due to adverse weather conditions in October and November 2013 and an above average prevalence of maize stalk borers and aphids. Maize production was also affected by late seed distribution by Government service providers as well as poor seed quality.

Accordingly, the overall cereal production in 2014 (including an average output of the minor 2014C season crops to be harvested between September and October) is tentatively forecast at about 760 000 tonnes, 7 percent below the last five-year average.

Maize prices declined due to improved availability

In the Kigali wholesale market, prices of maize slightly declined in recent months (?4 percent between February and April 2014), following the 2014A season harvest as well as the availability of imports from neighbouring Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. In April 2014, maize was traded in the Kigali market at about USD 310 per tonne, about 20 percent below the price of 12 months earlier.

Prices of beans, the main staple, were quite stable during last two months, around USD 500 per tonne, well below the record level of over USD 700 per tonne registered at the end of last year.

Minimal levels of food insecurity in most areas of the country

Minimal levels (IPC phase 1) of acute malnutrition are reported in most areas of the country. However, households affected by production shortfalls during the 2014A season face stressed levels (IPC phase 2) of food insecurity as their food stocks were depleted by early March, about one month earlier than usual. Since then, these households rely entirely on market purchases to meet their food needs, with frequent adoption of negative coping strategies such as above-average sales of livestock. The country’s food security conditions are expected to improve by June with the beginning of the 2014B season harvest.

TheCropSite News Desk



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