23 December 1996


Recent developments have led to a sudden influx of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees from neighbouring countries. These returnees will face difficult living conditions in the months ahead, with bleak prospects for adequate food supplies and other basic necessities. The additional upsurge in food needs will undoubtedly strain the already fragile and unstable food supply situation in the country, which has persisted since the outbreak of civil strife in April 1994. In view of the need for additional food, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Rwanda from 3-16 December, to assess prospects for the 1997 season A food crops, to evaluate the food and nutritional status of the population and to estimate cereal import requirements, including food aid, for the first semester of next year.

In making its assessment, the Mission held discussions with various Government, UN and bilateral agencies and visited all eleven prefectures in the country. In appraising prospects for food production the Mission relied on (i) an analysis of satellite images of the rainy season; (ii) extensive field inspections; (iii) an extrapolation of pre-civil strife statistics and (iv) information provided by prefectures and communes.

The Mission assessed that there had been a significant increase in area planted under season A crops this year compared to last. In several prefectures, local authorities had begun allocating land belonging to absentee farmers to returnees from the 1959 exodus, or had rented land to relatives and neighbours of owners. In general, therefore, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of total arable land was left uncultivated this season.

Rains during season A (which started in September), have been irregular with notable deficiencies in central and southern prefectures and normal to excessive precipitation in the rest of the country. Dry conditions substantially lowered crop production in Gikongoro, Gitarama and parts of Butare and Kigali rural prefectures, whilst abundant rainfall elsewhere reduced prospective yields of beans, though it favoured cereals, roots and tubers. The output of bananas and plantains was also affected by localized losses due to heavy winds in important growing areas. Overall, production of season A cereals, root and tubers is estimated to be 23 percent above last year, while that of bananas and plantains is expected to increase slightly. However, the output of beans dropped 12 percent below last year. Despite an overall improvement, food production from the 1997 season A remains below the pre-civil strife average, due to lower cropped areas, low yields of pulses this season and crop losses in the prefectures affected by dry weather.

The reduction in bean production, the main first season crop, coupled with a sharp increase in demand from returning refugees in November/December has seriously aggravated the food situation in the country. Bean prices have risen sharply and are considerably higher than prevailing prices last year. The nutritional situation gives cause for concern in some areas of the country; it is likely to be aggravated with anticipated reduced per caput food supplies in 1997. Food shortages in Gikongoro and Butare prefectures may also lead to an increased incidence of malnutrition in these areas.

Taking into account an estimate of 560 000 returnees from Zaire in November 1996, the expected return of 400 000 people from Tanzania by the end of the year and of some 100 000 additional returnees in 1997, the Mission projects a population of 7.685 million people for the first half of 1997. It is estimated that this number of people would require a minimum of 145 000 tons of cereals, 152 000 tons of pulses, 781 000 tons of roots and tubers and 1 600 000 tons of bananas/plantains. Taking into consideration the expected production and stocks, this leaves a deficit for the first semester of 1997 of 30 000 tons of cereals, 45 000 tons of pulses, 124 000 tons of roots and tubers and 522 000 tons of bananas/plantains. In cereal equivalent terms, the total deficit is estimated at 141 000 tons. As only a part of this requirement can be met through commercial imports the country will need substantial food assistance in 1997. Food aid requirements for the first half of the year are estimated at 81 000 tons of cereals and 33 000 of pulses, to cover needs of 2.571 million people, or one-third of the projected population. The number of beneficiaries includes recent returnees who were not engaged in farming during the 1997 A season, previous returnees who will have to leave farm areas they are presently occupying, and vulnerable groups including widows, elderly people living alone and orphans. The resettlement and reintegration of the large number of returnees into the economy poses a serious challenge to the Government and the international community.

At present, there is also an urgent need to provide recent returnees with sweet potato cuttings, vegetable seeds and agricultural tools, to enable them to engage in agriculture and harvest crops by March/April next year, before the full harvest of the next season in June. In preparation for the 1997 B season, there is need for sorghum and bean seeds, fertilisers and pesticides . FAO is assisting the Ministry of Agriculture and its other partners with the preparations for the cropping season in February 1997, within its strategy to strengthen the capacity of the country to move beyond the emergency phase to rehabilitation and development. There is also a pressing need for donor assistance with the implementation of a massive agricultural rehabilitation programme to restore food production to pre-crisis levels. In the absence of such support, the country, will remain heavily dependent on imports, mainly food aid, in the years ahead.

In view of prevailing instability in crop production and food supply, the situation needs to be kept under constant surveillance. In view of this, it is recommended that an early warning system for monitoring the agricultural and food and nutritional situation be established immediately. Moreover, In the medium term there is clear need to re-establish a reliable agricultural statistics system.


The total population as of 1 January 1996 was officially estimated at 6 193 000. Since then there has been a large flow of returnees from neighbouring countries. The first major wave of returnees was from Burundi in August , essentially in the prefecture of Butare. According to the International Office of Migration (IOM), close to 140 000 refugees had returned by 10 November 1996.

Subsequently, a massive influx of returnees from Zaire occurred in mid-November and are still continuing to arrive. After consulting with various institutions (in particular government authorities at prefecture level and UNHCR), the Mission estimated the returnee population from Zaire at 560 000. Returnees have been asked to register in their communes in order to receive emergency assistance (one month of food ration and non-food items). More precise figures will be provided in the coming weeks by the census presently being carried out at commune level by the Ministry of Home Affairs with UNHCR support. Approximately 80 percent of the returnees have been registered to date.

Since early December, there has been a large scale repatriation of Rwandan refugees from Tanzania. By 19 December, 300 000 refugees had crossed into Rwanda. The Government expects another 100 000 refugees in Tanzania to have returned within the coming weeks which, together with an additional 100 000 returnees expected from Zaire, would bring the total number of returnees to 1.2 million for 1996. Of the remaining refugees in neighbouring countries, 200 000 are expected to return at some stage during 1997.

Table 1 provides current population estimates by prefecture and for the country as a whole. A 3 percent growth rate (based on the 1978 and 1991 censuses) has been adopted. Accordingly, Rwanda’s population in March 1997 (middle of the next semester) is estimated at 7.685 million people, close to the pre-civil strife population of 7.75 million at the beginning of 1994.

Table 1: Rwanda: Estimated Population by Prefecture ('000)

Total population
Number of returnees in 1996 Total population Total population

as of 1/1/96 1/ Growth rate Total from 1/1/96 to 11/11/96 (IOM) 2/ from 12/11/96 to 12/12/96 3/ estimated from 13/12 to 31/12/96 4/ as of 1/1/97 as of 31/3/97 5/
Butare 499 15 133 89 5 39 647 657
Byumbu/ Umutara 790 24 161 3 75 83 974 988
Cyangugu 453 14 46 3 20 23 512 518
Gikongoro 410 12 34 4 10 20 456 461
Gisenyi 672 20 167 9 155 4 860 873
Gitarama 789 24 46 3 25 18 859 867
Kibungo 366 11 294 10 20 264 671 688
Kibuye 364 11 54 0 20 33 429 434
Kigali 1 124 34 136 12 120 4 1 294 1 309
Ruhengeri 726 22 129 7 110 12 877 889
RWANDA 6 193 187 1 200 140 560 500 7 579 7 684

1/ Agricultural strategy paper for Rwanda prepared for FAO-World Food Summit (November 1996).
2/ Returnees registered by International Office of Migration.
3/ FAO/WFP estimates based on figures by prefectures and UNHCR.
4/ Difference to reach the 1 200 000 returnees in 1996 on a prorata of the population from these prefectures in the refugees camps.
5/ Natural growth of 0.75% for 3 months plus 50 000 returnees (200 000 x 3 months/12 months).

As more refugees return, people occupying their homes and fields are asked to vacate them. Crops will however be harvested by the people who planted them. As a result, old caseload households (1959 refugees who have returned in 1994) will become homeless and need shelter and land for cultivation.

Returnees have been instructed by the government to return to their communes of origin, which may not necessarily be the ones in which they lived before migration. As a result of this (and of population growth in the former refugee camps) the number of returnees in some communes may exceed the number of people who had left in 1994, while in others numbers would remain lower. This situation could be temporary but could also have significant implications in terms of agricultural production and household food security, and could become critical in areas where scarcity of land had originally led people to migrate, as the additional population would bring increased pressure on existing resources.


In Rwanda, harvesting of foodcrops is continuous throughout the year, ensuring a certain degree of stability of food supplies. In particular, bananas/plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava and vegetables are gathered according to the crop maturity and the families’ consumption needs. In the northern potato growing areas, the crop is harvested three times per year, while beans and cereals are cultivated in two seasons.

During the two main cropping seasons in Rwanda, the crops of the first season "A" are normally planted in September/October and harvested in January/February. Main crops in this season are beans and maize. However, in areas where sorghum is also a first season crop, (Gisenyi and Ruhengeri), it is planted earlier in July. Crops of the second season "B" are planted in February/March and harvested in June/July. The main crop is sorghum, but beans are also grown. There is a third small season in July/August, immediately after the harvest of the B season crops in swamp areas. Main crops of this third season are sweet potatoes and vegetables. However, the output of the third season is very small and is normally accounted in the season A harvest. The season A is slightly more important than season B in terms of volume of production.

The basic staples in Rwanda are bananas/plantains, sweet potatoes, beans, and sorghum which, at national level, provide some 25 percent, 23 percent, 16 percent and 11 percent respectively of calorie availability. A large proportion of the banana/plantains and most of the sorghum crops are consumed in the form of beer, mainly by the adult male population. Potatoes are mostly consumed in urban centres. Most of the proteins are provided by beans. Consumption of animal products is very limited, with farmers rearing livestock and small animals as a cash source.

While sweet potatoes and bananas/plantains are produced and consumed relatively evenly in all prefectures, production of other food crops varies according to agroecological zones. Production of beans and sorghum is concentrated in four prefectures: Kigali, Kibungo, Byumba and Ruhengeri. Production of the relatively minor potatoes and maize crops is highly concentrated in two northern prefectures: Ruhengeri and Gisenyi. Production of banana and plantains is higher in Kibungo and Kigali prefectures. The southern prefectures of Gikongoro, Cyangugu and Butare depend mostly on sweet potatoes and bananas and plantains to cover their food requirements.


4.1 Planted Area

The Mission observed that some 90 percent of farms are currently occupied, signifying a substantial increase over the previous two years. Planted area has also increased significantly compared to 1996 season A. The situation is actually close to normal in the majority of the prefectures with the exception of Gikongoro (80 percent), Kibuye and Kibungo (85 percent) and Butare and Kigali (90 percent). This reflects general improvement in the security situation, the relative stability of the population and the positive impact of continued international assistance since 1994 in multiplying and distributing seeds and agricultural tools, as well as generally favourable climatic conditions.

4.2 Yields

During the 1997 season A (September 1996 to January 1997) rainfall was generally irregular and below-average in the central and southern parts of the country covering the prefectures of Butare, Gikongoro, Gitarama and Kigali Rural. Elsewhere, rains were generally abundant but in some areas excessive with a negative impact on the bean crop. In heavy rainfall areas, the pest and disease situation was generally calm with minor infestations of mosaic on cassava, of mildew on potatoes and caterpillars on sweet potatoes. In the areas affected by drought, plant diseases were encouraged by the poor quality seeds and the proliferation of insects, particularly black aphids on beans.

In general, crop yields were expected to be satisfactory for all of the crops in the favourable rainfall zones, with the exception of yields of beans. In the areas with pockets of drought and in communes affected by hail and excess rains, maize yields will also be significantly reduced. However, in the drought affected areas, root crops and tubers will be less affected.

Banana plantations were also affected by violent storms in the important production zone of Kibungo and some communes of Byumba.

4.3 Production of the 1997 season A crop

Total production from the 1997 season A crop is estimated at some 93 700 tons of cereals, (28 percent higher than the 1996 season A crop), 102 600 tons of pulses, (12 percent below the previous year), 1 077 600 tons of bananas/plantains and 657 100 tons of roots and tubers, respectively 2 percent and 23 percent above 1996 season A level. Total food production is estimated at 1.931 million tons against 1.78 million tons in 1996-A, or an increase of 8 percent. Nonetheless, this output remains 11 percent below the average of the period 1989-1993.

Table 2: Rwanda - Foodcrop production: 1997 season A forecast compared with previous years (‘000 tons)

Crops 1990 A Season 1/ 1995 A 1996 A 1997A Average 1989-93 1997 over average 1989/93 (%) 1997 over 1996 (%)
Sorghum 27.9 13.0 16.9 15.1 21.7 70 89
Maize 81.2 47.3 54.1 72.1 79.5 91 133
Wheat 2.9 1.1 1.2 1.0 4.0 25 83
Paddy rice 2.2 1.1 1.1 5.5 5.8 95 500
Cereals 114.2 62.6 73.3 93.7 111.0 84 128
Beans&peas 142 72.7 114 98.3 135.7 72 86
Ground.&soya 11.4 3.3 3 4.3 14.3 31 143
Pulses 153.4 76.0 117.0 102.6 150.0 68 88
Bananas 1 398.6 957.6 1 056.0 1 077.6 1 173.3 92 102
Potatoes 147.6 65.3 99.0 133.5 150.1 89 135
Sweet potatoes 364.5 202.0 296.0 384.1 418.1 92 130
Taro 19.9 8.8 23.0 24.8 26.0 95 108
Cassava 137.0 71.1 118.0 114.7 148.9 77 97
Roots&tubers 669.0 347.2 536.0 657.1 743.1 88 123
TOTAL 2 335.2 1 443.3 1 782.3 1 931.0 2 177.4 89 108

1/ Pre-civil strife.

4.4 Short-term agricultural rehabilitation needs

The most urgent immediate need, beside emergency food aid for vulnerable people and recent returnees, is for the international community to assist the population of affected zones with the supply of sweet potato cuttings and vegetable seeds for planting in the marshlands for harvest in March/April. For the 1997 season-B crop to be planted in February, it is important to provide farmers with required inputs, particularly seeds (sorghum and beans), fertilisers, and pesticides, as well as agricultural tools.

It is also necessary to assist the populations in the rehabilitation of marshlands supported inter alia by food-for-work programmes.

Table 3: Rwanda - Foodcrop production in 1997 =season A by Prefecture (‘000 tons)

Crop\ Prefecture Butare Byumba Cyangugu Gikongoro Gisenyi Gitarama Kibungo Kibuye Kigali Ruhengeri Rwanda
Sorghum 0.00 2.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 13.10 15.10
Maize 0.31 5.00 3.52 0.99 26.75 1.04 3.36 8.75 2.13 20.16 72.01
Wheat 0.00 0.02 0.00 0.05 0.25 0.00 0.00 0.21 0.00 0.52 1.05
Paddy 1.58 0.50 1.80 0.00 0.00 0.46 0.46 0.00 0.75 0.00 5.55
Total cereals 1.89 7.52 5.32 1.04 27.00 1.50 3.82 8.96 2.88 33.78 93.71
Beans 1.87 22.96 2.50 1.96 5.64 7.10 19.20 4.44 7.77 16.73 90.17
Peas 0.54 2.46 0.12 0.97 0.66 0.35 0.82 0.40 0.74 1.03 8.09
Groundnuts 0.05 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.12 1.54 0.00 0.12 0.00 1.85
Soya 0.73 0.00 0.36 0.53 0.03 0.56 0.02 0.06 0.16 0.00 2.45
Total pulses 3.19 25.44 2.98 3.46 6.33 8.13 21.58 4.90 8.79 17.76 102.56
Bananas 90.00 131.95 60.83 16.98 76.18 201.66 251.92 15.05 153.42 79.56 1,077.55
Potatoes 4.16 5.72 0.00 6.89 33.08 5.52 0.00 4.70 9.00 64.40 133.47
Sweet potatoes 51.00 48.31 21.21 48.30 17.05 65.34 20.04 27.30 16.90 68.69 384.14
Taro and yams 3.50 0.00 5.66 1.12 0.90 5.46 0.28 4.25 1.25 2.40 24.82
Cassava 6.83 10.50 10.56 2.63 3.08 33.64 17.10 6.93 19.14 4.32 114.73
Roots & tubers 65.49 64.53 37.43 58.94 54.11 109.96 37.42 43.18 46.29 139.81 657.16
Total 160.57 229.44 106.56 80.42 163.62 321.25 314.74 72.09 211.38 270.91 1 930.98


5.1 Butare

The season was unfavourable in the prefecture, with insufficient or no rains between September and November. This negatively affected area planted as well as the yields of major crops, notably beans, peas, soybeans, peanut and maize. The drought caused a proliferation of black aphids and virus related diseases that mainly affected beans. In the south-eastern communes, the banana crop continues to be negatively affected by lack of maintenance which lasted until the return of the refugees. By contrast, sweet potatoes in marshlands has been doing well both in terms of planted areas and yields, as a result of a successful production promotion programme, the free distribution of cuttings to farmers and food-for-work schemes aimed at the cultivation of marshlands.

The food supply situation will be precarious in the communes of Mayaga region (Muyira, Mugusa, Ntyazo, Muyaga) which were the most severely affected by the drought, and also in the traditionally vulnerable communes of Maraba, Nyakizu and Runyinya, which are characterised by poor eroded and acid soils, poor agricultural production, only a limited number of NGO activities, and very limited agricultural labour supply with many households headed by widows.

In this prefecture, particularly in the vulnerable zones, people currently survive on the beans and fresh peas harvest, sweet potatoes and cassava, as well as the income earned from the sale of banana beer and food-for-work schemes, and food aid distribution of food for returnees and needy people. The situation may worsen with the expected return of additional refugees from Zaire and Tanzania.

To deal with this situation, it is urgent that the international community provides immediate assistance to the population to cultivate, without any delay, sweet potatoes in the marshland, and necessary seeds for planting beans, soybeans, groundnuts, wheat and sorghum for the next season B. A seed protection programme was undertaken in October 1996 for the prefecture and food-for-work schemes are underway and will be expanded. CRS is implementing a food targeted assistance which is expected to continue in the coming months.

5.2 Byumba

The increase and the stability of the agricultural population along with the availability of inputs, resulted in a general increase of cropped areas.

The first rains were received at the end of August in the high altitude zones, which allowed the sowing of early beans. However, subsequent irregularity and insufficiency of rains at the beginning of September adversely affected crops. In these zones, beans were replanted in October and benefited from regular and abundant rains. Good vegetative growth was observed, which suggests favourable prospects for harvest.

In the low-lands, rains occurred on time and the sowing normally carried out from mid-September generally benefited from a normal and regular rainfall, except in a few communes (Ngarama and Murambi) which received below-average rainfall in October/November. It is also worth noting that in some sectors of Gituza and Bwisigi communes, storms and strong winds in August/September seriously affected banana plantations, beans, maize and groundnuts.

The pest and disease situation was relatively calm with some attacks of black aphids on beans in the communes of Gituza and mildews on potatoes in high altitude areas. Yields in the prefecture ranged from average to good, in particular for potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The food situation will be tight due to the massive inflow of population. Food assistance will focus on the resettlement of more than 150 000 returnees from Zaire and Tanzania. The situation of vulnerable groups, including old caseload returnees without livestock and/or land must be monitored and food-for work will continue.

5.3 Cyangugu

This prefecture bordering Zaire experienced massive outflows of population in 1994. Due to an improvement of the security situation, the area planted in the prefecture has gradually increased. During the current season, most of the land left by absentee farmers had been allocated to the "old caseload" refugees or was cultivated by relatives of the owners or by neighbours; administrative authorities have rented abandoned coffee fields. Overall, it is estimated that only 10 percent of the land was left uncultivated.

Rains started somewhat earlier than normal, but they were generally good in September and October. They were followed by excessive precipitation in November which negatively affected the beans crop at flowering stage; yields of beans are generally reduced. Hailstorms in December also resulted in localized damage to maize and bananas crops (commune of Gisuma). Nevertheless, the heavy rains were beneficial for more resistant maize and root and tubers crops, for which good harvests are in progress. Production of bananas will also increase from last year due to improved crop husbandry and the partial return of population during 1996. Overall, however, yield potential is hampered by the lack of organic fertilizers following the destruction of livestock among mixed farmers.

Markets in Cyangugu were well supplied, but prices of beans have more than doubled from their level of the previous year. This reflects the reduced harvest, but also an outflow of beans following the recent opening of the border with Zaire, which has resulted in increased demand for foodcrops, particularly due to the cessation of food aid distributions in the Bukavu area of Zaire as well as high inflation.

At the time of the Mission, the prefecture had registered 12 000 returnees from Zaire in November and December, but reduced numbers were still entering. The "old-caseload" returnees are cultivating fields left by others and will have to leave their lands. The problem is particularly serious because a large proportion of houses in this prefecture has been destroyed during the civil strife of 1994. The Government has already identified places for building houses for this population, but has not yet identified lands for cultivation. Most of these people are located in the communes of Gisuma, Bugarama and Kamembe. House rebuilding is a priority in the prefecture. Apart from the recent and old returnees, the prefecture has identified 8 146 vulnerable families, including widows, the elderly without lands and orphans. Targeted distribution of food aid is encouraged for this group. In addition, food-for-work projects are being implemented, serving more than 40 000 beneficiaries.

5.4 Gikongoro

The agricultural season started early at the end of August with abundant rainfall which allowed a normal sowing from mid-September. However, the scarcity and irregularity of rains in October (7.5 mm against 18.7 mm in 1989) and November (4 mm against 21.6 mm in 1989) severely affected beans, maize, sweet potatoes and potatoes, notably in mid- altitude communes. One of the consequences of the drought was the multiplication of black aphids during flowering of beans and the occurrence of root diseases (fusariosis). In addition, the maize crop suffered from the streak virus, and potatoes from some bacterial attacks and mildews. The Regional Agricultural Extension Service indicates that eight out of thirteen communes were severely affected by drought. The Mission which visited three of these communes confirmed that yields for the major crops will significantly decline, by over 50 percent for pulses. Average yields are only expected in the high-altitude communes of Mudasomwa, Kivu, Nshili, Muko and Musebeya, located close to the Nyungwe forest.

The food supply situation is tight in the prefecture as reflected by the general price increase for the major foodcrops and the additional pressure on the demand for food by returnees who did not cultivate during the current season. For the time being, the main source of food is the harvested sweet potatoes in the mid-altitude zones and potatoes in high-altitude zones, in addition to income generated from labour intensive food-for-work programmes such as marshland development and tree planting schemes.

Priority actions from now to March 1997, in addition to the urgent food aid assistance to the most vulnerable communes of Karama, Rukondo, Karambo, Nyamagabe and Muguba, should be oriented towards the rehabilitation of marshlands in the prefecture (1 000 hectares to be developed and 500 hectares to be rehabilitated according to the regional rural engineering service) with food-for-work activities. In the perspective of the season-B, assistance to farmers must be oriented towards the provision of agricultural inputs and the distribution of seeds of beans, peas, sorghum, potatoes, maize, cassava cuttings and sweet potatoes.

5.5 Gisenyi

Despite a high number of refugees in the prefecture bordering the town of Goma in Zaire, there has been a gradually increase in the area planted. It is now estimated that virtually all the arable land has been cultivated by neighbours and, to a lesser extent, by the "old caseload" refugees (mostly resettled in Government’s lands).

Rains were overall normal in September and October, but a dry period in the second half of September resulted in planting reductions in areas around Kivu lake. Precipitation in November was excessive and accompanied by hail storms and land slides which caused localized damage to bean crop particularly in Kanama and Gasake communes. Except for pulses, the output of which is anticipated to decline, weather conditions during the season were favourable for crop development. Maize and potatoes, important crops in this Prefecture, benefited also from an improved distribution of agricultural inputs; good outputs are expected.

The main market in Gisenyi is well supplied. At the time of the Mission’s visit the border with Zaire was reopened and transborder exchanges were starting to revive.

This prefecture received the highest number of returnees in November. By early December they were estimated at some 155 000 persons but, at the time of the Mission’s visit, people continued to enter at a rate of some 1 000 persons per day. The prefecture has also over 75 000 "old caseload" returnees. The main problem for the prefecture is the resettlement of this population. In addition to food assistance to the returnees, there is a need for special food-for-work schemes for the reconstruction of dwellings and the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector that will increase the supply of food and will benefit vulnerable population in the prefecture, estimated at 21 000 families of widows, some 50 000 civil strife affected and poor people.

5.6 Gitarama

Planted areas, notably with sweet potatoes, potatoes, cassava and pulses increased significantly due to improved security and stability conditions for the population, the return of refugees from Burundi to the Mayaga zone, larger plantings in newly developed marshlands and the satisfactory availability of potatoes favoured by a crop multiplication programme.

Rains started early during the second half of August but they stopped in September in the eastern zone of Mayaga and at the time of planting in the south and centre, in particular in the communes of Murama, Masango, Tambwe, Kigoma and Mukindi, leaving some parcels in fallow. By contrast, the north of the prefecture benefited from abundant and regular rains.

Yields of sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas and bananas increased significantly as a result of prolonged fallow, a calm pest and disease situation, a better maintenance of banana plantations left idle in the past and currently given or rented to farmers who remained in the area. Potatoes also benefited from the availability of inputs provided in the form of loan by the Cooperative Service Centre. However, yields of beans, soybeans and maize declined in unfavourable climatic zones particularly in Mayaga due to below-average rainfall and the spread of insects, notably black aphids. Cassava was also severely affected by the mosaic disease which was encouraged by the insufficiency of healthy cuttings.

Given massive purchases of agricultural products by the NGOs and the return of refugees from Burundi, the food supply has tightened, except for cassava and sweet potatoes, which currently constitute the main food items for the majority of the population. The food situation is particularly critical in the Mayaga zone and in the communes which received below-average rainfall. It is urgent that these affected zones receive without delay, vegetable and sweet potato seeds to plant in the marshlands and seeds of beans to plant in low-lands. It is estimated that some 400 hectares of land could be rapidly planted. In anticipation of the season-B, the prefecture needs seeds of beans, soybeans, groundnuts and sorghum. Seven tons of potato seeds are currently available for farmers in the marshlands of Mugina and some 22.4 tons are available in the form of loan at the Cooperative Service Centre.

5.7 Kibungo

This prefecture adjoining to the Tanzania border halved its population following the events of 1994. The large extensions of lands abandoned have been progressively cultivated by others, and in particular by over 100 000 "old caseload" refugees. During the 1997 A season, the areas planted and the husbandry of the banana fields increased substantially. It is estimated that only some 15 percent of the fields remained abandoned.

The rains started earlier than normal but precipitation was generally adequate during the season, except in some pockets affected by severe dry weather, such as the communes of Nacho and Kayonsa. Elsewhere, good harvests of beans and root and tubers are in prospect. However, localized heavy winds and hail storms in September and November destroyed large extensions of bananas in the important growing commune of Rukira and Rutonde. In Rukira, it is estimated that some 40 percent of the trees fell down, but the percentage of production losses is higher as the banana-bearing plants were those affected. Kibungo is by far the most important banana producing prefecture and therefore the yields of banana and plantains at national level will be reduced.

Most of the assumed 400 000 returnees from Tanzania are expected to come back to Kibungo. While the increased numbers of returnees will be in need of assistance until they could harvest some crops, the case of the people who have to leave the lands they have been cultivating gives also cause for concern. The Government has already identified agricultural areas for resettling the population but important works need to be undertaken before land could be cultivated and houses and other social infrastructure be functional. As bananas and plantains, the most important crop in the prefecture, are harvested all year round, the problem appears to be more serious for those leaving the land than for those returning. In addition to the assistance provided to new caseload returnees, food-for-work schemes for the reconstruction of dwellings will be encouraged for the "old caseload" returnees.

5.8 Kibuye

In this prefecture the area planted also increased during the season as a result of improved security conditions, some return of population and the renting by the communes of the banana fields.

Rains were normal in September and October but excessive in November, negatively affecting bean crops at the flowering stage, particularly in low altitude lands which experienced floods. Except in the lowlands, other crops benefited from the abundant precipitation during the season. Good harvests of Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes are being gathered for the second consecutive year following the implementation of seed multiplication programmes (Swiss Cooperation). The maize crop was in good condition and the outlook for the harvest in February is promising. Production of bananas is estimated to increase in the first half of the year, reflecting enhanced husbandry.

Rural markets in the prefecture were well supplied.

WFP is currently providing food assistance to some 21 500 Zairian refugees in this prefecture. Seed distribution and seed protection programmes have been implemented in all the communes. The situation of the most vulnerable households should be monitored.

5.9 Kigali Rural

Cultivated area has increased significantly with the return, in July/August, of a large number of refugees from Burundi and the availability of sufficient seeds of beans, soybeans, groundnuts, maize and vegetables. Rains started early in August in the prefecture and later became irregular and unevenly distributed. In general, rains were below-normal in Kigali-East zone, average in the zone of Kigali-North, abundant in the sub-prefecture of Murambi, and significantly below-average in the major producing zone of Bugesera. In this zone, comprising the communes of Kanzenze, Ngenda and Gashora, sowings started late in October but rains suddenly stopped in November, forcing farmers to abandon some of their fields. As a result of drought and significant spread of insects and other diseases, production is expected to be very low, with a decrease of more than 50 percent anticipated in Bugesera. In this zone, pulses and maize were most affected by black aphid attacks while grasshoppers affected beans. The yields of upland cassava and sweet potatoes also declined due to attacks by the caterpillars in crops of potatoes whereas numerous abandoned banana plantations suffered from the cumulative effect of lack of prolonged maintenance and drought in Bugesera for three consecutive years.

The prices of main food items have currently more than doubled due to the limited amount of stocks, the return of refugees and a bad harvest outlook, notably in the zones where climatic conditions were unfavourable during the season. In these zones, parts of the population earn some income from the sale of bricks, but the main source of food is cassava and sweet potatoes from a few productive marshlands. In addition to food aid necessary for the most vulnerable people and over 100 000 new returnees, the prefecture needs hoes, seeds for sorghum, beans, peas, pulses, maize and vegetables for the following season-B.

5.10 Ruhengeri

Before the recent inflow of population, the agricultural situation in this prefecture had been normalized, with all the land available cultivated by the resident population.

The rainy season started normally in September. Precipitation was abundant in mid-October and became excessive in mid-November, negatively affecting the yield potential of beans crops. Hailstorms in November (mainly Kidaho commune) resulted in localized crop losses of beans. While production of beans is forecast to be lower than last years, increases are expected for the other main crops of the prefecture, potatoes, maize and sorghum. These crops benefited of the abundant rains, as well as from an improvement distribution of inputs, mainly through the implementation of an IFAD project in the Birunga region.

By the first week of December, this prefecture had received over 100 000 returnees from Zaire. Virtually all the estimated refugee population has returned and the current population in the Prefecture is now some 6 percent higher than before the civil strife. This reflects the return of "old caseload" returnees and of people that were not living in the prefecture when the massive outflow of population took place.

While the food supply situation of the returnees is difficult they have reintegrated without social conflict supported by the solidarity of the resident population. This has been facilitated by the fact that Ruhengeri was not affected by the events of 1994 as severely as other prefectures. The returnees are provided with initial food aid as they arrive and the assistance will continue through rural rehabilitation programmes and targeted distributions that will also include other vulnerable groups. In addition, the prefecture faces the problem of resettling half of the "old case-load" returnees (3 410 families) who were established in the fields of the recent returnees from Zaire and for whom, apparently, there is no additional available land. These people are concentrated in four communes (Kinigi, Kuli, Mutingo and in the urban areas of Kigombe).


The food supply situation is anticipated to become difficult in the first half of 1997 as a result of the combined effect of a reduced production of pulses, the main crop of the 1997 A season, and a sharp increase in consumption needs following the massive return of population to the country.

By the second half of November, prices of beans had risen sharply over the same period last year, indicating extremely low stock levels and the prospects of a reduced harvest. The additional food requirements of over 500 000 returnees in November also contributed to price increases. Table 4 shows average prices by Prefecture of selected foodcrops.

Table 4: Prices of Selected Foodcrops by Prefecture, November 1995 - November 1996 (Rwandan francs/kg)

Prefecture Beans Potatoes Maize Sweet Potatoes

1995 1996 Change 1996 over 1995 (%) 1995 1996 Change 1996 over 1995 (%) 1995 1996 Change 1996 over 1995 (%) 1995 1996 Change 1996 over 1995 (%)
Butare 123 187 52 57 43 -25 53 55 4 17 16 -6
Byumba 163 163 0 43 37 -14 50 42 -16 20 14 -30
Cyangugu 127 223 76 63 45 -29 43 50 16 9 25 178
Gikongoro 133 183 38 40 40 0 53 70 32 11 15 36
Gisenyi 142 167 18 35 27 -23 60 42 -30 28 20 -29
Gitarama 133 180 35 52 45 -13 63 52 -17 14 27 93
Kibungo 98 138 41 63 46 -27 45 53 18 25 15 -40
Kibuye 153 163 6 33 35 6 40 50 25 13 9 -31
Kigali 117 193 65 51 43 -16 77 63 -18 21 30 43
Ruhengeri 123 145 18 27 26 -4 60 32 -47 15 15 0
RWANDA 131 174 33 46 39 -15 54 51 -6 17 19 12

There are significant price variations at prefecture level according to the supply situation. The largest increase in prices of beans was registered in Cyangugu (76 percent), where the bean crop has been severely affected by excessive rains and hailstorms, and demand has risen following the recent opening of the border with Zaire. Prices remained at the same level of last year in Byumba and increased moderately in other prefectures where good harvests are in prospect. In Kigali city, prices of beans were 65 percent above last year’s level. Overall, the average price of beans in the country by the second half of November was one-third higher than in 1995. By contrast, prices of root and tubers have generally declined due to abundant market supplies as a result of the on-going good harvests. The price of maize is also declining due to satisfactory harvest prospects.

On the demand side, the massive return of refugees, coupled with the population growth, means that in the first semester of 1997 there will be about 1.4 million more people in the country than at the beginning of the season in September 1996. While this additional population will not gather any crop during this season, it will need food to consume in the meantime.

At the time of the Mission, markets were generally well supplied with staples, although, in contrast to previous years, food aid commodities were now observed only in limited quantities (mainly oil). However, the problem is the lack of access to adequate food, as prices are beyond the reach of a large segment of the population. Vulnerable groups include the recent returnees, the "old-caseload" returnees who will have to abandon the lands they are occupying, the population made vulnerable by the civil strife (widows, elderly people alone, orphans), as well as people who were already vulnerable before the civil strife due to the extreme fragmentation of agricultural land and lack of employment opportunities.

6.1 Food supply/demand balance, January-June 1997

Given the uncertain situation concerning population movements and food production in the second half of the year, it is not possible to estimate import requirements for the whole of 1997. The Mission, therefore, calculated requirements only for the first six months of 1997. A reappraisal of the food situation will therefore be necessary to coincide with the harvesting of the season B crops in June 1997. The food balance for the first semester of 1997 is presented in Table 5.

Table 5: Food Supply/Demand Balance: January-June 1997 (000 tons) Population: 7.685 million

Cereals Pulses Roots & Tubers Bananas/Plantains
Domestic Availability 117 107 657 1 078
Opening Stocks 1/ 23 4 0 0
1997 A production 94 103 657 1 078
Total Utilization 147 152 781 1 600
Food use 127 123 722 1 568
Other uses/losses 9 21 59 32
Closing stocks 2/ 11 8 0 0
Import requirement 30 45 124 522
(Cereal equivalent) 30 45 36 30
Commercial imports 15 12 0 0
Food Aid 15 33 36 30

1/ Includes food aid stocks of 8 000 tons of wheat and 4 000 tons of pulses.
2/ Includes food aid stocks of 11 000 tons of wheat and 6 000 tons of pulses.

Carryover stocks of grains at the beginning of the year are at low levels and will not significantly contribute to food availability in the first half of 1997. On-farm stocks of pulses are normally negligible at the end of the year since the first season is the most important for pulses. This year, traders’ stocks are also at minimal levels as reflected by sharp increase in prices in recent weeks. By contrast, following the good sorghum harvest of 1996 season B, on-farm and trader stocks are estimated at 15 000 tons. In-country food aid stocks at the end of the year were reported at 12 000 tons of cereals and pulses. However, some 25 000 tons of regional food aid stocks of WFP and some 15 000 of the EU are available in neighbouring countries for regional operations.

In-country food aid stocks are expected to rise over the course of the first half of 1997 as aid agencies gear up to deal with the sharp increase in the number of returnees. However, this increase will be slight as WFP will continue with its approach of maintaining stocks at regional level so as to allow flexibility to its operations.

Food consumption requirements are calculated on the basis of the historical consumption of 33 kg of cereals per caput per year, 32 kg of pulses, 188 kg of roots and tubers and 408 kg of bananas. Feed use of grains has been negligible since the sharp reduction of the national livestock herd during 1994. Other uses of grains include seed retention and losses (mainly to pests in storage and in trading). Altogether non-food uses and losses are assumed to account for 11 percent of cereals, 20 percent of pulses, 9 percent of roots and tubers and 3 percent of bananas and plantains.

The population scenario used for the food balance, assumes an average population of 7.685 million people in the first semester of 1997. It takes into account an annual growth rate of 3 percent, an estimate of 560 000 returnees from Zaire in November 1996, an expected return of 400 000 persons from Tanzania by the end of the year and of some 100 000 additional returnees in the first half of 1997. The returnee numbers need to be kept under constant review as they could be higher or lower than expected. The Mission estimates that for a deviation of 100 000 in the returnee numbers, food requirements for six months would change by 7 000 tons (cereal equivalent).

The food deficit derived from the food balance amounts to 30 000 tons of cereals, 45 000 tons of pulses, 124 000 tons of roots and tubers and 522 000 tons of bananas. The deficit in root and tuber, has been converted into cereals since these commodities are not available as food aid; in addition, they are expensive to import as they are bulky and perishable. Over two-thirds of the bananas produced are consumed in the form of banana beer, (mainly by men), and therefore not easily substitutable for cereals in the household food basket. Nevertheless, the small portion of the banana production consumed cooked and as a fruit, with a higher calorie content, has been converted into cereal equivalent.

Estimates of commercial imports differ according to sources and, in general, they seem to underestimate cross-border trade. Rwanda has historically been a net importer of cereals and pulses. While estimates for 1994 and 1995 shows figures varying from 3 000 to 8 000 tons of grains imported, official statistics from years before the civil strife indicate average annual imports of about 31 000 tons; furthermore, earlier studies indicate that unregistered cross-border trade in beans amounted to 41 000 tons in 1983. A decline in commercial imports after the civil strife can be explained by a decrease of one-quarter of the population inside the country, by the generalized reduction in purchasing power and by the substantial inflows of food aid. In the first half of 1997, the huge number of returnees will increase the demand for food imports.

At the time of the Mission, beans were imported mainly from Uganda (although in previous months the trade flow was the other way round) and to a limited extent from Burundi. The border between Zaire and Rwanda has been recently opened after two years of closure. Following the cessation of food aid distributions in the Bukavu area of Zaire, due to the civil strife in the region, the opening of the border has resulted in an outflow of foodcrops.

After reviewing all the factors, the Mission estimates the commercial imports of cereals and beans over the first half of 1997 at 15 000 tons and 12 000 tons respectively. This would leave a food aid requirement of 81 000 tons of cereals and 33 000 tons of pulses. Against these requirements, regional stocks of food aid amount to some 40 000 tons of cereals and pulses. WFP pledges for the first semester of 1997 are substantial; however, further pledges will be required for the second semester of 1997.


The survey carried out by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF in June 1995 on 734 rural households was the first attempt to provide information on malnutrition in Rwanda after events in April 1994. According to this survey, the prevalence of acute protein-energy malnutrition (9.7 percent) was twice that before the civil strife and 5 percent of rural women had a Body Mass Index lower than 18, and are therefore at risk if they become pregnant. No more recent data are available regarding the nutritional situation in the country. There are however reasons for serious concern, at least in some areas of the country, as the situation is likely to have deteriorated recently.

All indications point to a major nutritional problem in Rwanda. These concerns have been confirmed by interviews with different informants and population groups. Severe protein energy malnutrition (marasmus and kwashiorkor), and the corresponding mortality appear to be increasing. In some areas people have limited their meals to one a day (instead of the usual two). It is a fact that the Mission visited Rwanda during one of the two lean periods, when food is in short supply. However, in normal years, this period is followed by the harvest of the Season A. In the areas where the 1997 Season A harvest will be negligible, acute food shortages will be faced by the most vulnerable households.

The Government of Rwanda is well aware that essential interventions should be targeted to the most needy. Most Ministries (and in particular the Ministry of Agriculture) have adopted a list of criteria to identify vulnerable groups. The government officials are, however, conscious of the fact that some of these criteria need to be refined, that there is a degree of overlap between them, that local people are the most competent to identify vulnerable people around them and that there is a lack of coordination between the different government institutions and with the NGOs working in the field to address the basic needs of vulnerable groups. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs appears to be taking the leadership in this field. A national survey is underway but results will only be available by April 1997. Welfare committees are being set up in each cell (one cell contains approximately 200 families) under the supervision of a inter-institutional group at commune level.

The Mission recommends that coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health at prefecture and commune level be strengthened as identification of nutritional problems could contribute to improving the targeting of agricultural emergency and rehabilitation activities. There is also an urgent need for a rapid nutritional surveillance system to be set up immediately and at least until June in order to monitor this serious situation. The use of MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) by local people could provide a first screening of the under-five population and be complemented as needed by more elaborate approaches in areas where there appears to be a high prevalence of malnutrition. This should in particular be complemented by the use of BMI (Body Mass Index) as this has proven to be a good indicator of household food security.

In the immediate future, it is important that food aid rations include items which can contribute to correcting some of the local imbalances in the diet: vegetable oil and pulses (preferably beans) are therefore highly recommended, since they are scarce and expensive. The introduction of white sorghum in the diet (traditionally used as weaning food) would facilitate better child feeding.


During the second semester of 1996, the major food aid donors - WFP, ICRC, CRS and the European Union - distributed more than 45 000 tons, of which about two-thirds was cereals and one-third pulses.

In 1996, food aid interventions have been targeted to areas that received the highest influx of returnees (Butare, Gisenyi, Ruhengeri, Byumba and Kigali Rural) and to areas with the highest percentage of vulnerable households (Gikongoro, Kibuye, Butare, and Gitarama).

WFP in-country food stocks at the end of December 1996 amount to some 12 000 tons with about 25 000 tons in ex-country stocks for regional allocation as needed and there are significant amounts of food in the regional pipeline. In addition, there are some 15 000 tons of EU stocks available in neghbouring countries for regional operations. Considering projected assistance for the reintegration of unsettled returnees and to the most vulnerable victims of the drought in some areas, the level of food availability should be increased.

More than 50 percent of the food aid distributed is used in the emergency works programmes for the construction of houses for the returning and homeless population and for the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector and rural infrastructure. Populations not able to participate in food-for-work programmes receive either targeted food assistance or participate in institutional feeding programmes. Considering the level of food production for 1997 Season A and due to the extent of repatriation, an estimated 2.571 million people or one-third of the total population will require food assistance for the first semester of 1997. The food aid requirements for the first half of 1997 are shown in Table 6.

Table 6: Beneficiary number by prefecture and type of programme (January-June 1997)

Number of Beneficiaries
Food Requirements (tons)
Prefecture Institutional feeding FFW Rehab. Targeted Food assistance Expected Returnees (100%) Total Cereals Pulses Oil Total food
Butare 22 578 49 143 60 057 57 175 188 954 4 535 1 941 340 6 816
Byumba 12 162 26 470 32 349 234 981 305 962 9 535 4 081 716 14 331
Cyangugu 12 663 27 561 33 681 73 379 147 284 4 043 1 730 303 6 076
Gikongoro 25 567 55 648 68 006 49 103 198 324 4 820 2 063 362 7 245
Gisenyi 14 891 32 411 39 609 149 836 236 747 6 428 2 751 482 9 661
Gitarama 23 339 50 798 62 078 100 686 236 901 5 888 2 520 442 8 849
Kibungo 9 933 21 620 26 421 361 441 419 415 14 169 6 064 1 063 21 296
Kibuye 21 093 45 910 56 105 88 656 211 763 6 309 2 700 474 9 483
Kigali 15 392 33 502 40 941 200 367 290 202 11 344 4 855 851 17 050
Ruhengeri 15 133 32 938 40 252 169 669 257 992 7 065 3 024 530 10 619
Sub-total 172 750 376 000 459 500 1 485 293 2 493 543 74 136 31 727 5 564 111 426
Orphans 3 000

3 000 216 65 10 291
PAN Project 53 445

53 445 3 049 369 156 3 574

21 500 3 149 942 157 4 248
Total 229 195 376 000 459 500 1 485 293 2 571 488 80 550 33 103 5 887 119 539

Returnees will continue to be among the priority population, but due attention will also be given to the most vulnerable households in the country, especially in the southern and central prefectures which have been severely affected by the drought. To avoid dependency on food aid on the part of the returnees, the Government and WFP plan to phase out large-scale free distributions of food aid as quickly as possible. Food-for -Work projects, which WFP has been implementing in Rwanda for the last two years, will be rapidly increased, targeting both returnees and other needy groups. At the same time, special attention will be given to targeting supplementary rations to vulnerable groups who are unable to work.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources and is for official use only. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.
Abdur Rashid K. Farrell
Chief, GIEWS, FAO Chief Desk Officer, OSA, WFP
Telex 610181 FAO I Telex: 626675 WFP I
Fax: 0039-6-5225-4495 Fax: 0039-6-5228-2839
E-Mail: INTERNET: giews1@fao.org

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