Will the irregular rain patterns have an impact on food security?

There is little chance of food security challenges, the hike of food prices, despite the unusual rain patterns, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana has said.

The unusual rain patterns and volumes had caused concerns on the potential impact on food security, food prices and inflation.

 

With the rains being higher than usual and also at irregular periods, some agriculture experts and farmers had predicted were likely to trigger shortage of food as well as inflation.

 

However, the Minister told The New Times that that following their assessment, there will be good harvest in Season A (happens in January and February) higher than last year.

 

While admitting that the rains currently being experienced could pose a challenge, Ndagijimana said that there had been investments in improving post-harvest handling, including drying facilities.

This has among other interventions seen the introduction of mobile drying facilities which are deployed to key sites across the country, the minister said.

With the harvest being good, Ndagijimana said that the price hike experienced towards the end of last year was in the process of reversal while post-harvest handling would ensure adequate storage and consequently maintenance of prices.

Increased food prices in the last quarter of last year drove up inflation to 6.9 per cent as of November 2019, from 4.4 per cent in October. This is beyond the Central Bank projections of 5 per cent for December 2019.

The National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) in December said that the inflation and hike in price had the most impact on maize and beans, which are among the most consumed in the country.

The rise in prices for maize and beans saw substitution to other foodstuff prompting increasing demand and driving up prices.

Such price hikes result from either reduced supply or increased demand.

NISR officials in December told The New Times that from information available, supply has not declined and has been constant but there has been a growth in demand for food in turn, leading to higher prices.

Among the drivers of demand were cited as emergence of processing industries, exports which have been on the rise, emerging animal feeds industries and growth in population among others.

The rise in prices is also the result of the seasonality of food production in the country and the region at large.

Speaking last week at the national release of the World Bank Economic Outlook, NSIR Deputy Director-General Ivan Murenzi said that they were currently gathering data on the potential consequences of the rains as well as status of food security.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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