4 March 1997


Food security conditions in Burundi, already precarious following several years of civil unrest and below average agricultural production, have deteriorated significantly in recent months. Continued civil strife, insecurity, large population displacement and the recent economic embargo by neighbouring countries have together resulted in a reduction in food supplies, substantial food price increases and a deterioration in access to food. In view of the serious situation an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was fielded to Burundi from 23 January to 3 February 1997. The main objectives of the mission were to evaluate production of the 1997 first season crop (harvested in January), assess early prospects for the second and third season crops (harvested in July and September respectively), and evaluate the overall food supply situation and estimate grain import and food aid requirements for 1997. To achieve these objectives, the mission held discussions with representatives of UN and donor agencies, key ministries, private institutions and NGOs. In addition field visits were made to 11 of the 15 provinces in the country. The remaining four provinces, Bubanza, Cibitoke, Rural Bujumbura and Karuzi could not be visited for security reasons.

The mission found that following reduced production of the crops harvested in July and September 1996, this year's first season crop was also adversely affected by poor security, sanctions, population movement and adverse weather conditions in parts. An escalation of the strife during 1996 resulted in the displacement of an estimated 10 percent of the population and affected key agricultural operations including harvests in July and September and planting of first season crops for 1997 during September 1996. However, since November 1996, significant numbers of displaced and dispersed people have returned to areas where the security situation has improved.

As a result of the above factors and the lack of inadequate quality seed, the area planted to beans, potatoes and vegetables in the 1997 first season was reduced. In addition, the yield of cereals and pulses was affected by poor quality seed, lack of fertilizers, a delay in the rainy season and a prolonged dry spell between September and November. The production of these and other crops was also adversely affected by poor crop husbandry, due to insecurity and population movement.

Aggregate food production of the 1997 first season crop is estimated at approximately 1.2 million tons, 7 percent below 1996 and 18 percent below the pre-crisis average for 1988-1993. Pulses and to a lesser extent cereals were the crops most affected. Compared to 1996 the mission estimates a 22 percent decline in production of pulses, 10 percent for cereals, 20 percent for roots and tubers, and 5 percent for bananas.

The early outlook for the second and third season crops in 1997 suggests a recovery in output, reflecting some improvement in security conditions and better availability of agricultural inputs. The availability of fertilizers is expected to improve in 1997 following permission by the Regional Sanctions Co-ordination Committee (RSCC) to import some 4 000 tons. Approximately 2 200 tons of this quota have been delivered and are being distributed. The distribution of seed for beans and vegetables by aid agencies is also expected to improve for the same reason. In contrast, planting of potatoes and, to a lesser extent, cereals will be constrained by a general scarcity of quality seed because of reduced availability following a succession of reduced harvests in the last few years and the poor state of seed multiplication sites.

As a result of improved input availability and assuming that security also improves and weather conditions remain satisfactory throughout the year, the Mission provisionally projects aggregate production in 1997 at 3.47 million tons. At this level, output would be slightly lower than 1996 and some 5 percent below the average for the pre-crisis years 1988-93. Overall production would comprise 271 000 tons of cereals, 316 000 tons of pulses, 1.38 million tons of roots and tubers and 1.5 million tons of bananas and plantains. Assuming that this level of production is attained, the country would still have a deficit of some 43 000 tons of cereals and 50 000 tons of pulses. In addition, to cover the projected deficit in roots, tubers and bananas, it would be necessary to import an additional 53 000 tons of cereals and pulses. Emergency food aid to cover the needs of the most affected sections of the population in 1997 is estimated at some 30 000 tons of cereals and 12 000 tons of pulses.

The overall food supply situation early in 1997 remains extremely tight. On average food prices increased by more than 40-50 percent compared to the beginning of 1996, whilst that of beans alone has more than doubled in most areas since July 1996, reflecting a reduced harvest.


Four years of civil strife and the economic sanctions imposed by the neighbouring countries in July 1996, have dealt a serious blow to all sectors of the economy including the agriculture sector.

The deteriorating state of the agricultural and food situation in Burundi is, to a large extent, the result of the civil unrest that has prevailed in the country since 1993. Violence and insecurity have caused movements of large sectors of the rural population, a reduction or even stoppage of all types of investments, a subsequent decline in all economic activities, a reduction in external assistance and, more recently, the economic isolation of the country by a trade embargo.

Although it seemed that there was a trend towards some improvement in security conditions during 1995 and early 1996, there was an escalation of the civil strife during the second and third quarters of 1996. New outbreaks of violence took place, mainly between May and July, coinciding with the harvest of the 1996 second and third season crops, and again in some areas between September and October 1996, during the planting of the 1997 first crop season. As a result , there have been considerable movements of the population, with large numbers of farmers leaving their farms and seeking security in other areas of the same province, other provinces or even in neighbouring countries.

It has been estimated that during the second semester of 1996, more than 500 000 people ( 8 percent of the total population) were out of their homes at some point in time, either as displaced or dispersed, and more than 200 000 Burundians (over 3 percent of the total population) moved to or from neighbouring countries.

As a result of this situation, there is considerable uncertainty about population figures in the country. However, based on a re-calculation of the population estimates made at the beginning of 1996 by UNPFA (United Nations Population Fund) which took into account the effects of the violence and migratory movements, there was a consensus among UN agencies, Government, and bilateral donors contacted, that the mid-1996 population could be estimated at some 5.93 million, with an annual rate of increase of about 2.7 per cent. On arriving at that total, the Mission has taken into consideration that, between the last quarter of 1996 and the end of January 1997, 156 000 Burundians left the country and have been registered by UNHCR as additional refugees in Kigoma, Tanzania. However, there is also evidence that the number of refugees in neighbouring countries may be higher since many of them are living outside refugee camps and cannot be registered by UNHCR. Based on these considerations and the annual population growth rate of 2.7 percent, the total population living inside Burundi by mid-1997 is thus forecast at 5.93 million. Out of this population, there would be at least 500 000 farmers living outside their homes with varying degrees of access to land and food. The three major groups that can be identified are the following:

Displaced Persons: Estimated at about 220 000 in total, mainly in camps in the provinces of Cibitoke, Karuzi, Gitega and Bujumbura. This is a population that has been mostly outside their farms since 1993. Out of that total, some 50 to 60 percent have limited access to land, either small plots near their camps or their own land that they can reach during daytime. The food and nutritional situation of those with no access to land is extremely precarious and has been deteriorating.

Dispersed People: Their numbers are difficult to estimate, given the ever changing security situation. They are presently estimated at about 250 000 to 270 000 people. Some of them live with host farm families and those with access to land are estimated at about 60 percent.

Re-grouped Families: These are farm families that are being re-grouped by the Government in some parts of the country with the intention of ensuring better security conditions. In general, they are being grouped in sites relatively near their farms. Their total number is still uncertain due to the lack of official figures. Estimates run between 50 000 and 200 000 at present. The Government officials consulted estimate that their access to land should be 70 to 80 percent. However, there is considerable concern among UN agencies, donors and NGOs over the capacity of the affected farmers to produce the food they need if the camps are far from their farms.


3.1 1997 first season production

3.1.1 Planted areas

1997 season A (September 1996 to January 1997) was marked by a combination of negative factors which resulted in a reduction of the planted area in comparison with the previous season A .

The poor outcome of 1996 season B aggravated by the difficulties of importing from the neighbouring countries, in particular Tanzania, resulted in a general shortage of seeds (bean and maize mainly) . In addition, due to the embargo, serious shortages of Irish potato and vegetable seeds at national level have significantly reduced the areas normally cultivated, notably in Muramvya, which represents the main producing area for these crops. On the other hand, persistent insecurity and insatiability which hampered access to land for displaced producers in some communes of the provinces of Kayanza, Muramvya, Ruhigi (where 50 percent of the population have been displaced during season A) and Bururi resulted in a reduction in areas planted. In addition, poor weather conditions characterized by late rains and very long dry spells, combined with a general shortage of fertilizers and pesticides, discouraged many producers and seriously limited the areas of beans and maize normally planted in the provinces of Kirundo, Ruhigi, Rutana and Makamba .

Overall, except for the provinces of Ngozi and Muyinga which benefited from better security conditions and greater involvement of the population in farming activities, the areas planted to cereals, beans, Irish potatoes and vegetables decreased compared to those of 1996 season A. By contrast, production of other crops including cassava, sweet potatoes, yam and taro increased slightly in a few provinces.

3.1.2 Yields

The severe drought which affected the northern province of Kirundo and part of Ngozi as well as the natural region of Moso which includes the eastern parts of the provinces of Cankuzo, Ruhigi, Rutana and Makamba, has been the main limiting factor of bean and maize yields. Black aphids in the bean crop have also been reported in these areas . On the other hand, the total lack of chemical fertilizers due to the embargo, combined with the serious shortage of organic manure due to heavy losses of livestock during the 1993 crisis, and the repatriation of cattle by the Rwandan refugees, resulted in significantly reduced bean yields in overpopulated areas of the north and centre, particularly in Gitega, Cankuzo and Karuzi . Reduction of yield due the same factors has also been reported in the southern province of Bururi. Poor quality of seeds and streak disease have affected maize yield, while taro crops suffered, as in the previous seasons, an attack of an unknown virus which causes roots to rot. Generally, the most affected crops are beans, maize, taro and Irish potatoes.

Table1. Burundi: Estimated 1997 Season A Food Crop Production by Province (tons)

Bubanza 38 523
7 606 2 798 331 5 578
1 721
14 835 856
113 72 361
Bujumbura 48 373
6 430 3 509 587 4 590
1 639 603 17 667 4 090
218 87 706
Bururi 21 456 196 5 003 21 385 846 1 164 426 4 343 176 12 793 8 542 1 907 179 78 415
Cankuzo 12 974

1 293 4 084 569 1 259 5 813
2 506 9 723 355
38 577
Cibitoke 39 650
2 044 4 187 793 2 870
2 424
17 090 1 018
793 70 869
Gitega 32 920

9 098 843 3 947 930 11 498 2 209 25 076 48 405 754 2 658 138 337
Karuzi 14 074

3 029 74 1 598 369 6 620 877 9 840 18 731 180 1 115 56 508
Kayanza 43 210 342
9 182 87 1 370 343 12 011
12 500 29 739 1 795 2 955 113 533
Kirundo 37 032

2 465
1 588
2 567
9 008 14 955
218 67 833
Makamba 10 791
1 661 8 312 792 12 348 31 4 374 98 8 710 2 134 993 85 50 329
Muramvya 14 237 212
18 734 1 347 2 318 384 6 471
9 945 29 368 3 802 286 87 104
Muyinga 63 205

6 048
1 353
9 204
13 761 11 825
601 105 997
Ngozi 57 293

10 771
2 638 603 16 622
13 619 32 556 4 026 2 099 140 228
Rutana 18 612

1 071 3 500 790 1 061 2 620 11 4 975 10 437 256 8 43 342
Ruyigi 29 231
600 346 2 118 491 773 4 846
4 742 10 247

53 393
TOTAL 481 580 750 23 344 102 229 15 402 43 211 6 178 92 774 3 974 177 067 232 626 14 068 11 329 1 204 531

3.1.3 1997 Season A food production

Total food production from the 1997 season A crop is estimated at some 1 205 000 tons against 1 296 000 tons in 1996A and an average of 1 475 000 tons for the pre-crisis period 1989-1993, or a decrease of 7 percent and 18 percent respectively. This output includes some 148 000 tons of cereals (12.3 percent), 104 000 tons of pulses (8.6 percent), 471 000 tons of roots and tubers (39.1 percent) and 482 000 tons of bananas (40 percent).

3.2 Prospects for the 1997 second and third crop seasons

The output of the 1997 second season crop, planted in March and harvested in July will be largely dependent on the availabilities of seeds, chemical fertilizer and pesticides as well as an improvement in the security situation. With regard to fertilizer supplies, out of 4 000 tons ordered to cover the needs for 1997 season A, only 2 200 tons arrived in November after the beginning of the season and 1 800 tons are still blocked at Kigoma in Tanzania . Without a quick solution, the quantities normally used during season B estimated at around 3500 tons will not be entirely covered.

Following two successive poor harvests and the embargo which seriously hampers trade with the neighbouring countries, most of the provinces face shortages of pest control products and a critical lack of bean, maize and Irish potato seeds . Shortages of rice seeds are also reported in the province of Ngozi, vegetable seeds in the provinces of Gitega and Muramvya and sweet potato and pea seeds in the province of Bururi . This situation has been aggravated by the impact of the embargo, as well as the withdrawal or low-profile position of donors, which critically affected the multiplication of seeds. There is also a serious risk that insecurity will continue to paralyse agricultural activities in some communes of the provinces of Ruhigi, Muramvya and Bururi .

Generally, prospects are favourable in Gitega and Muyinga provinces and better than the 1996B season in Kayanza and Karuzi provinces where the security situation has significantly improved. It is assumed that similar conditions will prevail during season C which starts in July .

Table 2: Burundi estimated 1997 Season A food crop production by commodity('000 tons)


A season
1996 A A season
1996A as %
of average
1997 A
A season
1997A as %
as % of 1996A
Cereals 183 167 91% 148 81% 89%
Pulses 181 133 74% 104 58% 78%
Roots & Tubers 542 495 91% 471 87% 95%
Bananas/Plantains 569 501 88% 482 85% 96%
TOTAL 1,475 1,296 88% 1,205 82% 93%

Table 3: Burundi estimated 1997 food crop production by season and commodity ('000 tons)

1997 Production

Commodity Average output
first season second season third season Total 1997 as %
of average
% of 1996
Cereals 298 273 148 109 14 271 91% 99%
Pulses 369 324 104 191 20 316 86% 97%
Roots & Tubers 1,433 1,364 471 702 203 1,376 96% 101%
Bananas/Plantains 1,563 1,544 482 643 382 1,507 96% 98%
TOTAL 3,663 3,505 1,205 1,646 620 3,470 95% 99%


4.1 Ngozi

Security conditions improved during 1997 season A, which encouraged the local population to return to their holdings. They received bean, rice and potato seed from NGOs and the government authorities. Their resumption of activities helped increase the planted area by 5 to 10 percent compared to the 1996 first season.

There were dry spells from November 1996, particularly in the communes of Busiga, Mwumba and Nyamurenza. The situation was compounded by the absence of fertilizer, disease and pest infestation (taro wet-rot, maize streak virus and the degeneration of hybrid maize seed), which reduced yields by an estimated 10 percent. The crops most affected by the drought were the seasonal crops, particularly bean. In the communes of Busiga, Mwumba and Nyamurenza, the bean harvest was virtually nil.

Market food supplies have declined as a consequence of lower production and the embargo. The situation has been worsened by the halt of supplies from neighbouring provinces of Muyina and Kirundo and direct farmgate collection by traders from Bujumbura. The resulting shortage of supplies at producer and trader level has tightened the market and caused prices to surge, sometimes by more than 60 percent. At the same time, the purchasing power of the population, with 97 percent dependent on agriculture for income, has fallen sharply despite some earnings from coffee.

The province has 12 reception centres for an estimated 21 904 affected persons, of whom 50 to 80 percent have access to land.

The outlook for 1997 season B is bleaker because of problems in procuring seed (rice and Irish potato), fertilizer and plant protection products. There could be a 10 to 20 percent fall in planted area for each crop. The prospects for season C are however better because of better maize and sorghum seed availability.

4.2 Kayanza

Continuing insecurity in the four communes of Butaganzwa, Rango, Matongo and Muruta meant that only about 70 percent of the land could be cultivated during 1997 season A. However, rainfall was adequate and well distributed throughout the province. Agricultural work was hampered by instability which prevented proper crop maintenance . This was compounded by the lack of fertilizer, quality seed and plant protection products.

These combined factors led to a marked reduction in yields, particularly of Irish potato, bean and maize. Most of the markets are closed because in security. Commercial activities are at a minimum, resulting in low food availability and prices twice their normal level. The populationís purchasing power has fallen drastically, despite earnings from cash crops (coffee and tea) and other artisanal and commercial activities.

Some 12 755 persons are affected in the province of Kayanza, of whom only 10 to 30 percent have access to land.

The outlook for 1997 seasons B and C is good because of better security and greater access to land by the displaced population.

4.3 Muyinga

Security has been good in Muyinga province since April 1996 and the rainy season has been almost normal. The planted area in 1997 season A increased by 20 percent following the return of people to their holdings, greater access to land by displaced persons and seed availability. As a result, yields have varied little from last season.

Market prices have soared, particularly bean prices and banana prices, because of reduced food supply and strong competition for supplies by traders from other provinces. In contrast, the price of Irish potato has fallen by 17 percent because supply has exceeded demand. Apart from coffee, other sources of income include trade, market gardening and small livestock.

Muyinga is one of the provinces with a large number of reception centres, grouping 40 470 affected persons, of whom 20 to 40 percent have no access to land.

4.4 Kirundo

There was a severe drought in Kirundo province during 1997 season A which reduced the cultivated area by at least 60 percent. Preparations had got off to a good start with the first rains in August/September, but when they failed in the lower part of the province, the tilled land could not be sown and what had been planted failed to grow. The yields were also seriously reduced notably in Bugabira, Busoni, Ntega and Kirundo.

This natural disaster was exacerbated by the embargo which has tightened food supplies and reduced market availability. Markets which normally supplied the other provinces and also traded with neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Tanzania) are now rarely frequented by the many traders in the province. As a result, food prices have risen by up to 150 percent. This has impacted heavily on household purchasing power and cannot be adequately compensated by income from cash crops and other activities. WFP estimates that some 19 633 persons are affected, of whom 10 to 40 percent have no access to land.

As regards future prospects, the difficulties in acquiring seed (Irish potato and maize) and plant protection chemicals will considerably limit output in 1997 season B. On the other hand, the outlook for the season C should remain unchanged.

4.5 Cankuzo

The Cankuzo province, which straddles two natural regions (Moso and Buyogoma) has had weather problems, with drought in Moso and excessive rainfall in Buyogoma. The prolonged drought in Moso and the abundant rains in Buyogoma have caused yields to plummet, particularly bean (about 40 percent). These negative factors have resulted in a 10 percent fall in aggregate output compared to the same season in 1996. Yet, 1997 season A had one of the best security conditions and even an expanded planted area, except for Irish potato for which seeds were in short supply. The sharp reduction in bean output further undermines the already low supply from the poor harvests of 1996 seasons B and C which also resulted from adverse weather conditions. The low outputs of the last three seasons (1996B, 1996C and 1997A) have seriously curtailed bean supply, particularly stocks for marketing and seed. It should be noted that farmers in Cankuzo use their bean crop for on-farm consumption and also as a cash crop which they export to other parts of the country. The mission anticipates that output in 1997 season B will be reduced for beans following the severe shortage of seed and the impossibility of trading with Tanzania because of the embargo.

4.6 Ruyigi

The province of Ruyigi has had three main problems that have affected 1997 season A: insecurity, unfavourable weather and the embargo. The civil unrest that occurred in the communes of Butezi, Butaganzwa and Nyabitsinda in 1996 seasons B and C continued in the communes of, Butaganzwa, Nyabitsinda, Kinyinya and Gisuru in 1997 season A. This state of insecurity caused high population displacement, with an estimated 50 percent of the population having to leave their land during these growing seasons, either towards other parts of the province or into Tanzania. The province was also affected by the flow of people from other provinces of the country towards Tanzania.

The province has experienced civil unrest and three unsatisfactory cropping seasons. In 1996 season B the rains ended prematurely , 1996 season C was seriously disrupted by insecurity and 1997 season A was affected by prolonged drought, particularly in Moso, and uneven rainfall in Buyogoma.

Farmers were unable to replenish their seed stocks from the poor harvests of 1996 seasons B and C. As a result, the planted area in 1997 season A was significantly lower, particularly for pulses and cereals. The reduction in cropped area and unfavourable weather conditions depressed pulse and cereal output by about 50 percent as compared to 1996 season A.

The outlook for 1997 season B is not very encouraging, particularly as regards pulses, cereals and Irish potato. There is a serious shortage of seed, a virtual stop to seed delivery (withdrawal of donors because of insecurity) and little possibility of trans-border trade with Tanzania because of the embargo. These factors have led to a sharp rise in prices, particularly of beans, which has eroded the purchasing power of most of the population.

4.7 Gitega

1997A season enjoyed better weather and security conditions than 1996 season A, manifested by a 5 to 10 percent increase in overall planted area. This increase was however constrained by seed short-supply, particularly of bean. The planted area is still 5 to 10 percent lower than the pre-crisis average (1988-1993). The rains in September were followed by a period of drought. The rains resumed in early November and were well distributed throughout the province. Such climatic conditions will result in a reduction in maize yield, which may be offset by the increase in cropped area.

The unreliable weather had little impact on most of the other crops as most farmers only planted during the second rains. There was a fertilizer shortage in Gitega during 1997 season A because of the embargo. In this connection, the province normally accounts for about 50 percent of national fertilizer consumption, principally for beans and cereals. However, the impact on yields in 1997 season A will be relatively low as most of the fertilizer is usually used during the second growing season. Yields should also be better as crop maintenance has improved following enhanced security in most of the communes of the province.

Total food production in 1997 season B is projected to be about 5 percent higher than in the same season in 1996 but still some 7 percent below the pre-crisis average. The coffee season is well underway after satisfactory mulching, pruning and disinfesting. The food situation is still precarious on account of the low availability of supplies and high prices, especially for some 26 000 displaced persons who live in deplorable conditions and most of whom have spent the past three years in makeshift camps. Their nutritional status is poor (food deficiency diseases).

Early prospects for 1997 season B are relatively good. The Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock (DPAE) already has most of its fertilizer requirements in place (approximately 1000 tons). This, coupled with improved security, should raise the planted area close to the normal level. However, there is still an acute shortage of vegetable seed which could compromise 1997 season C results.

4.8 Muramvya

1997A season was marked by irregular rainfall, with good rains at the outset followed by drought and resulting seed loss (maize, bean); a general shortage of agricultural inputs, particularly vegetable seed, Irish potato sets and fertilizer; a serious lack of security in most of the province causing continuous population displacement. The affected population (displaced, dispersed and in settlements) totals almost 50 000 people, which is 10 percent of the population of Muramvya, of whom only 60 percent have access to land. As a result, there has been a 5 to 10 percent fall in planted area compared to 1996.

Moreover, irregular rainfall and the absence of crop husbandry, because of frequent population displacement, have caused significant falls in crop yields and an overall drop in production of about 12 percent from last year and 22 percent from a normal year.

Food supplies are very low, particularly of vegetables (source of income for farmers in the province), Irish potato and beans, which is confirmed by the soaring prices, especially of beans, peas and Irish potato. The embargo has exacerbated an already precarious situation.

Three years of civil war, a general decline in agricultural production and the attack on the tea plant in Teza have undermined the local economy and depressed incomes. The situation has been made much worse by the embargo, which has caused food prices to rocket. The Mission therefore noted that local purchasing power had been seriously eroded.

The outlook for 1997 seasons B and C is worrying given the state of insecurity and the lack of inputs, particularly seed. The Mission estimates that output in season B will be about 7 percent lower than the pre-crisis average.

4.9 Karuzi

The province of Karuzi is still seriously affected by the insecurity that has existed since 1993. Though the mission was unable to make a direct field visit it did obtain information from the DPAE (Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock) and NGOs operating in the area. This information indicates a continuing reduction in agricultural activity in 1997 season A because of the lack of security and the displacement of about 17 percent of the population. The crop area would therefore appear to have remained much below that of the pre-crisis years.

As the security situation is much the same as last year, the mission estimates that food production for 1997 season A will also be comparable to that of 1996 season A, i.e. some 15 percent below the pre-crisis average.

4.10 Rutana

The agricultural season got off to the best possible start, with good preparatory work, sufficient seed from a good 1996 season B and satisfactory security. This meant that when the rains arrived in October, areas slightly larger than in 1996 season A could be planted. However, the plants underwent intense moisture stress during the long drought that lasted throughout the month of November, seriously affecting the bean crop and to a lesser extent maize, particularly in the fertile lowlands of Mosso. The lack of fertilizer due to the embargo, the outbreak of black aphid infestation because of the drought and the poor quality of seed, have also had a very negative impact on bean production which should decline by about 60 percent. The resumption of rains in late November and their subsequent regularity and abundance should prove beneficial to the other crops, and particularly maize which has recovered well and looks healthy. At the same time, the lean season crops, young sorghum shoots and rice are growing well, although the lack of fertilizer will undoubtedly take its toll on Irish potato yields.

The embargo has had negative consequences on food supplies in the province, which used to make up for bean shortfalls by purchasing huge quantities in the border villages of neighbouring Tanzania. Food stocks amongst farmers and traders are presently very low, and what little bean is available will be mainly saved as seed for the next season (1997B). Furthermore, the doubling of food prices and the tripling of transport costs because of the embargo also affect cash crops (cotton, coffee, tobacco and rice), which are the sole source of cash for the farmers, thus wiping out local purchasing power.

The province provides shelter to some 3 000 displaced persons, mostly from the province of Gitega, of whom half - and particularly those from the commune of Musongati - do not have access to their land, which places them in a precarious food and nutritional situation.

As regards the next season (1997B) the lack of seed (particularly bean) is a serious source of concern.

4.11 Makamba

The rains that began in mid-September only lasted one week and were followed by a period of drought which lasted until the end of November. The first plantings did not survive the long drought and the few plantings carried out in December will produce mediocre yields. Many farmers have become discouraged and have preferred to write-off season A and concentrate wholly on season B. This has resulted in a massive reduction in cropped areas, particularly land given over to maize and bean, which has halved. Meanwhile, the area under Irish potato has fallen by 30 percent because of the shortage of sets. The lack of fertilizer and pesticides (particularly dithane) coupled with climatic conditions have seriously curtailed the yields of bean, maize, and Irish potato. The only crops that will give satisfactory results are the lean season crops (sweet potato, cassava and taro) and the sorghum sown in December after the rains had resumed.

The poor harvests in 1996 season B and 1997 season A ,which have eliminated farmer stocks, coupled with the effects of the embargo (halt to traditional trade with neighbouring Tanzania, shortage of vegetable seed, higher prices of generally imported basic goods) have caused food prices to soar and even double in the case of bean and maize. The embargo has also had a very negative effect on the livestock sector because of the lack of veterinary products, particularly acaricides, which could significantly raise mortality rate not only amongst cattle but also amongst sheep and goats between now and March/April 1997. Similarly, the combined effect of the ban on fishing in plentiful Lake Nyanza for reasons of security and the reduction in cash earned from the sale of banana, coffee, cassava and bean, have seriously weakened purchasing power and affected the food and nutritional status of the local population, particularly as their traditional diet is based on cassava meal and fish.

The overall security conditions are good except in certain parts of the commune of Nyanza-Lac but the province provides shelter to a large number of displaced persons from the provinces of Bubanza, Cibitoke and Bujumbura Rural. It has some 750 displaced persons (300 in the commune of Vugizo and 450 in Nyanza-Lac) of whom 600 have access to their land.

The farmers generally keep their seed, but two difficult seasons have made the situation precarious. The next season (1997B) will only be successful if seed is made available (wheat, bean and Irish potato) along with agricultural inputs and particularly plant protection products for the Irish potato crop.

4.12 Bururi

The main seasonal crops in this province are maize, Irish potato, sorghum and sweet potato. There was very good rainfall in 1997 season A with the rains arriving on time in September and then falling evenly and regularly. This has been good for maize and its 20 percent increase in cropped area. The area under sorghum and sweet potato has dropped by 15 percent and 20 percent respectively because of the seed short-supply. Yields were also seriously reduced due to the lack of fertilizer, poor quality of seed and plant. Agricultural production in the more fertile and productive communes of the region of Imbo (Rumonge, Buyengero and Burambi), which is the only region to grow lean season crops and generally has bean and cassava stocks, will be seriously undermined by the lack of security which isolates these areas and prevents access by agricultural extension agents.

The embargo and the halt to trade with Tanzania to offset rice and bean shortfalls, have meant that market and farm supplies of these products and maize are relatively low and that prices have risen by an average of 25 percent to 50 percent above normal. However, this province is the main livestock region of the country, with an estimated 53 percent of the population possessing cattle. At the same time, some 20 to 30 percent of the population are unable to fully meet their food and nutritional requirements. Apart from stopping the supply of fertilizer and fuel for crop production, the embargo also affects livestock farming by blocking the entry of veterinary products (acaricides), which raises livestock mortality, and by severing of ties with Kenya where 30 heifers had been ordered to upgrade the local breed.

Since April 1996 there have been some 98 displaced families in the commune of Songa, but they have continued to cultivate their plots. In contrast, many displaced and dispersed persons in the troubled communes of Imbo do not have access to their land.

The prospects for the next season (1997B) are largely conditional upon improved security, the continuation of favourable weather and an adequate supply of good quality seed for Irish potato, sweet potato, bean.


There is little doubt that the economic embargo on Burundi has exacerbated the adverse affects of civil strife in the country and resulted in further lowering of agricultural production and incomes and a deterioration in the food supply situation. The main affects on agricultural production have been:

In addition the embargo has affected the economy and incomes in the following ways;

For the 1997 first season, the embargo adversely affected the availability of vegetable and potato seed. In contrast, the relative scarcity of bean and cereal seed is mainly attributed to a poor second season crop in 1996. Nonetheless, the embargo did hamper imports of beans from Tanzania and that of some 300 tons of potatoes from Rwanda. In addition around 60 tons of potato seed rotted and could not be distributed in the main producing province of Muramvya, due to the lack of fuel and effective transport. The mission also received other similar reports of distribution problems. It is estimated that as a result of these difficulties, potato production could be reduced by roughly 2 700 tons or 16 percent.

Vegetable production in Burundi is undertaken throughout the year. In general, there has been an acute shortage of vegetable seed in the country as most of it is imported. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that there was a shortfall of some 600 kg of various vegetable seeds for second season crops in 1996. This quantity of seed would have produced some 4 000 tons of vegetables, equivalent to approximately half the level of fresh vegetables normally produced during the second season.

During the last two years, some 5 000 tons of fertilizer were imported annually for foodcrops, of which approximately one third was for use during the first crop season and the remainder during the second and third seasons. Fertilizers are mostly used on beans, potatoes, rice and vegetables and in small proportions on maize intercropped with beans. Although the embargo on fertilizer imports was recently lifted, delays at the border meant that supplies could not enter the country in time for use during this year's first season. It is estimated that the resultant reduction in yields, mainly of beans, will lower 1997 first season production by some 7 500 tons or 7 percent. It is anticipated, however, that the availability of fertilizer will improve significantly during the second season as a large proportion of the 4 000 tons purchased by the Ministry of Agriculture, previously held up in Tanzania, is currently being delivered and distributed in the country.

The embargo has adversely affected the health of the livestock population in the country. Presently there is a critical lack of veterinary products, notably acaricides. This could result in an increase in mortality from March/April due to the outbreak of cattle ticks which occurs mainly from January to March .

The embargo has also resulted in the closure of the ALCOVIT feed factory and the flour-mill at Muramvya, due to lack of wheat and maize imports from Zambia. In addition, the inability to import cotton seed from Zaire for industry, has resulted in shortages of oil cake, a by product, for feed. This in turn has seriously affected the poultry industry and resulted in a significant increase in the price of meat.

A direct consequence of the embargo has been the scarcity of fuel, which has resulted in a large increase in price. In August 1996, immediately after the embargo, the price of fuel jumped from FBU 190/lt to FBU 1,000/lt. Although prices receded thereafter, they remain at about FBU 500-600 per litre. The high cost of fuel has negatively affected the transport sector, which in turn has resulted in (1) a hike in food prices, especially in urban areas and areas of food shortage, (2) an increasing number of small traders going out of business, (3) a severe reduction in the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture to visit and work in agricultural areas and offer extension advice and (4) an escalation in cost of distributing agricultural inputs, particularly potato seed.

The embargo has affected the economy through a reduction in export earnings. Total exports in the first 11 months of 1996 fell by more than 50 percent, to FBU 11 300 million from FBU 24 867 million in the same period of 1995. Most of the reduction was experienced in the second half of 1996. Coffee exports, normally accounting for more than 75 percent of total export earnings, fell from 29 000 tons in 1995, to less than 14 000 tons in 1996, whilst the export of tea fell from 6 700 tons in 1995 to 4 000 tons in 1996. Small producers were, however, able to sell 1996 coffee and tea to processing and exporting companies before the embargo. This has meant that exporting companies have large amounts of stocks still unsold. In the case of coffee, stocks are estimated to be close to half the level of production. Given this level of inventory, it is unlikely that exporters will be purchasing significant amounts of the 1997 crop from small producers. This in turn will significantly affect the earning capacity of these producers, a large number whom are small holders.

The large reduction in foreign exchange earnings will worsen a trade balance that was already extremely unfavourable. In addition, the obstacles to import and export have strongly affected the financial situation of the Government. Revenues fell by more than 35 percent in the months immediately after the embargo, relative to their level in the previous year. This reduction is mostly explained by a 60 percent reduction in receipts from corporate taxes and more than 90 percent reduction in receipts from trade tariffs.

The deterioration in the current account and in economic activity in general is exerting a strong pressure on the national currency. The FBU depreciated by more than 50 percent in the open market, from a level of 300 units per US$ before July 1996, to around FBU 500 per US$ in January 1997. This situation, coupled with the increases in the costs of transport and the difficulties to import foreign inputs, is having a strong effect on all economic activities, mainly industry and services. A survey conducted by UNDP of 12 of the biggest employers in Bujumbura indicated that those enterprises reduced their employment by around 60 percent after the embargo. According to the Chamber of Commerce, it is likely that more than 6,000 employees were layed off during the second half of 1996. This means for those families that are directly affected - more than 30,000 urban dwellers mostly in Bujumbura - increasing difficulties to meet their food needs.


The poor food supply conditions that presently prevail in Burundi are clearly reflected in the prices of the main food products. Large price increases were experienced immediately after the announcement of the embargo, mostly as a result of panic buying and hoarding of stocks. Prices declined somewhat from those early increases, but have remained significantly higher than their pre-embargo levels. The main factors behind the present levels of prices are: the poor results of the last three crops (1996B, 1996C and 1997A), restrictions to import and the cost of transport.

The main factor behind the poor supply situation and the large increase in prices is the succession of reduced harvests. Burundian farmers mostly produce for their own-consumption; their marketable surpluses are relatively limited (estimated at 20 percent to 30 percent of their total food production). As farmers experience a reduction in their crop, marketable surpluses are reduced by a larger proportion than the overall crop loss. As a consequence, price fluctuations are high. However, for traded products, mainly beans, imports from neighbouring countries formerly contributed to moderate the price fluctuations. This yearís embargo, strongly enforced by the Tanzanian authorities, has almost closed that possibility.

Official price data from ISTEBU (Institut des statistiques et díétudes économiques du Burundi) surveys in Bujumbura (July and November 1996), as well as Ministry of Agriculture price information and direct observations made by the Mission in 11 rural markets are presented in Table 4. The data confirm the large increases experienced in food prices.

One of the most affected commodities was beans, with an average price increase of more than 100 percent between July 1996 and January 1997. This is the direct result of the extremely reduced crops.

Before the embargo when Burundi had a bad bean harvest, supplies used to flow mainly from Tanzania, helping to moderate Burundi domestic prices. The embargo has almost eliminated that beneficial effect of trans frontier trade.

Maize prices have also been highly affected, with an average increase of over 70 percent during the same period. Rice, has also experienced large price increases of, on average, about 40 percent. However, it is worth noting that the average increase in the price of rice is fairly close to the depreciation of the Burundi franc in the open market.

The large increase in the cost of fuel and the consequent increase in transport costs have contributed to the increase in prices, due to the higher costs of distribution and trade; and aggravated the price differentials between surplus and deficit areas. In fact, higher transport costs are accentuating price differentials between regions. In Muyinga, where the crop was less affected than in other insecurity and drought affected areas of the country, bean prices were approximately at FBU 150/kg in January 1997, while in other drought affected bean producing areas like Cankuso, Cayanza or Ngozi, prices were closer to FBU 200/kg. In Bujumbura bean prices were almost double Muyinga prices at FBU 289/kg.

Prices of roots and tubers in general have experienced more moderate increases than beans or cereals. This as a result of better crops and the fact that their production is more evenly distributed across the country. By contrast, the prices of bananas have increased sharply (around 100 percent), mainly as a result of the higher cost of transport, as this commodity is bulky, its production is less evenly distributed and it is normally actively traded throughout the country.

However, certain factors have restrained the increase in prices, in particular:

ē reduced demand, as the populationís incomes and purchasing power have been falling rapidly;

ē embargo "busting", as supplies continue to pass through some of the frontiers.


The overall food and nutrition situation gives cause for serious concern. The estimates of apparent consumption indicate a continuous deterioration in the average availability of food since 1994. Food balances estimated for the country show that in 1993/94 and 1994/95 there was a decrease in the intake of energy from 89 percent to 81 percent of requirements. In the case of proteins, availability fell from 88 percent to 83.4 percent of requirements while lipids from 34 percent to 32 percent. Surveys conducted in displaced camps of Bubanza, Ngozi and Muramvyia indicate high levels of acute malnutrition for children (20 percent). In the province of Kirundo, MSF admitted 1 222 children in supplementary programmes between June and December 1996. According to that NGO, the situation has been deteriorating as the rate of admittance grows rapidly. It appears that for each recovered child that leaves the programme after recovering, 8 new malnourished children are being admitted. Infectious diseases related to malnutrition have also been detected to be increasing. There is concern about the obstacles imposed by the embargo for the importation and distribution (shortage of fuel) of supplies necessary to carry out supplementary feeding programmes and medical treatment. There is an acute shortage of antibiotics, oxygen, anaesthetics, and other basic medical supplies. Approximately 75 percent of basic medicines are not available in the governmentís central pharmaceutical storage.

The 1997 projected balance for cereals, pulses, roots and tubers and bananas is summarized in Table 5. The balance should be regarded as provisional, since it is still highly dependent on the evolution and results of the second and third season crops that will be harvested between June and September 1997.

TABLE 4. Burundi: Consumer prices of main food products in selected rural markets (FBU/KG)


Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97
Beans 68 280 90 200 110 250 120 220 114 200 120 200
Maize 38 60 40 80 45 120 70 120 50 70 55 110
Sorgho 45 70 60 103 80 120 80 100 84 110 120 90
Dry Cassava 43 50 30 41

42 50 35 40
Rice (milled) 123 250 173 350 180 250 200 350 210 350 200 350
Potatoes 59 50 40 90 50 100 40 60 60 60

Sweet Potatoes 20 80 20 20 40 50 13 20 16 18 40 40
Taro 40 50 40 50 80 95

Salt 155 250

200 250

Sugar 252 280

250 260

Palm Oil 466 400

450 500 400 500
Banana (regime)

300 600 600 900 500 900


Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-96 Nov-97
210 100 200 130 200 70 150 70 190 154 289
90 60 120 60 130 50 100 60 150 100 141
75 80 100 80 105 35 90 37 85 125 141
Dry Cassava

95 93
Rice (milled)
260 220 270 220 280 220 280 180 250 198 250
70 45 60 30 55 90 60 60 80 107 140
Sweet Potatoes

77 95

25 65 75 100 75 50 65 75 66 93

122 281

235 268
Palm Oil

253 214
Banana (regime)
650 400 850 500 1000 800 1 400 300 600

Total food production available in marketing year 1997 (January-December) is provisionally forecast at 3.47 million tons, representing 95 percent of the average food produced annually during the 1988-93 pre-crisis period. The production estimate includes 1.2 million tons from the 1997 first season harvest directly assessed by the Mission, and 2.27 million tons from the 1997 second and third season crops. The total available production forecast for the three seasons includes 271 000 tons of cereals, 316 000 tons of pulses, 1.38 million tons of roots and tubers and 1.5 million tons of bananas and plantains.

Foodgrain stocks at the beginning of 1997 marketing year are assumed to be negligible. The country does not hold food security stocks and grain stocks of private traders and peasants are estimated to have been completely depleted before the end of the 1996 marketing year, following the poor 1996 harvests and the obstacles to import imposed by the embargo. In addition, insecure conditions have discouraged farmers and traders from keeping stocks. Thus, the total availability of foodgrains is estimated to be restricted only to production.

Total food requirements are based on an annual per caput consumption of 47 kg of cereals, 52 kg of pulses, 230 kg of roots and tubers and 264 kg of bananas and plantains. The requirements for cereals and pulses are about 6 percent percent lower than the ones used in previous FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions. Previous Missions used apparent consumption levels of the years before the crisis. However, since 1993 and because of the civil conflict, there would have been a reduction in the apparent consumption of cereals and pulses. The Mission estimated apparent consumption of cereals and pulses for the 1994-1996 period, using available information on production, imports and food aid, as well as an adjustment to take into account cross-border unregistered imports. The reduction in the forecast of the per-caput consumption for 1997 is believed to be also in line with the present reality of the market, characterized by high cereal and pulse prices and lower purchasing power of the population.

The per caput requirements estimated by the Mission would cover approximately an average per person daily energy intake of about 1,950 kcal. It is therefore assumed that the remainder of the energy requirements will be covered by other food products such as sugar, garden vegetables, other fruits and animal products. In the particular case of banana, the requirement takes into consideration its consumption as food as well as its utilization for traditional beer production. The Mission wishes to emphasize that, although it has tried to take into account market realities to avoid unrealistic forecasts of import requirements, it is also important to consider that the apparent availability of food in the country has been falling since 1993 and that the nutritional levels of the population keep deteriorating year by year.

Estimates of post-harvest losses, feed, seed and other uses have been made on the basis of calculations made by FAO projects in the country. For pulses they amount to 18 percent of production, including some 32 000 tons of beans that will be needed for seed, at a seeding rate of 80 kg/ha for a total of 400 000 ha to be planted during the year (1997 second and third season and 1998 first season plantings). Non-food uses for cereals are estimated at 13 percent of production. This takes into account that the coarse grains that will be used for feed is falling to negligible amounts due to the closing of the poultry feed factory and the large reduction in poultry raising. For bananas and roots and tubers the non-food uses are estimated at around 10 percent of production.

The food deficit derived from the food balance for marketing year 1997 is provisionally forecast at 43 000 tons of cereals, 50 000 tons of pulses, 121 000 tons of roots and tubers and 210 000 tons of bananas and plantains. The deficit in roots and tubers has been converted into cereals since these commodities are difficult and expensive to import as they are bulky and perishable. Over two-thirds of the bananas produced are consumed in the form of banana beer, and therefore not easily substitutable for cereals in the household food basket. Nevertheless, the portion of the banana production consumed cooked and as a fruit, with a higher calorie content, has been converted into cereal equivalent. The total deficit in grain equivalent is estimated at 146 000 tons.

In principle, a continuation of the trade embargo would hinder commercial grain imports. However, available information indicates that non-registered imports from neighbouring countries continue to take place, encouraged by the large increases in prices that have been experienced in Burundi food markets. Therefore, the Mission anticipates that some 5 000 tons of cereals and 10 000 tons of pulses could eventually be imported through informal trading channels during the 1997 marketing year. Further expansion of commercial imports will be constrained not only by the embargo, but also by the scarcity of foreign exchange and the continuous depreciation of the Burundi Franc.

From the remaining shortfall of 38 000 tons of cereals and 40 000 tons of pulses, the emergency food aid needed to assist the most vulnerable groups of the population have been estimated at 33 000 tons of cereals and 12 000 tons of pulses, leaving an uncovered deficit of about 86 000 tons of grains that would be needed in other forms of food assistance to avoid further deterioration in the nutritional situation of the population.

Table 5: Burundi: Food Supply and Demand Balance 1997 ('000 Tons)

Population mid 1997 (Ď000) 5,934

A. DOMESTIC AVAILABILITY 271 316 1,376 1,507
Production 1997 271 316 1,376 1,507
Season 97A
148 104 471 482
Season 97B
109 191 702 643
Season 97C
14 20 203 382
Stock drawdown 0 0 0 0
B. TOTAL UTILIZATION 314 366 1,498 1,717
Food Use
279 309 1,365 1,567
Seed, feed and other uses 35 57 133 151
Commercial imports 5 10 0 0
Emergency food aid 33 12 0 0
Uncovered deficit (in cereal equivalent) 5 28 38 15


In 1993 and 1994, WFP provided regular assistance to about half a million internally displaced Burundians. This programme was phased down in 1995 and replaced with short-term Emergency Relief distributions and with FFW "productive reliefí projects targeted at populations affected by conflict. In order to improve targeting to the neediest WFP has standardized its evaluation methodology and is currently undertaking joint assessments with UNICEF and FAO of the displaced and regrouped sites. Following needs assessments, emergency relief distributions are done by WFP teams based in Bujumbura and Ngozi. Follow-up monitoring is done to determine if the group in question could benefit from WFPís FFW Programme and resettlement schemes.

During 1996, WFP- Burundi assisted an average of 80 000 Burundian nationals per month, as well as an average of 115 000 Rwandan refugees in northern Burundi A total of 8 053 tons was distributed to the former category, while 23 000 tons was provided to the latter during the year. Assistance to Burundian refugees in Uvira was also provided in 1996 by WFP, until the border was closed

Although it is difficult to predict events in this region, the conflict in Burundi appears to be still far from being resolved. Over the medium term, this would mean continued population displacements inside the country and outflows of refugees to Tanzania. For 1997 it is projected to maintain the monthly caseload at a level of approximately 265 000 beneficiaries. Most of these beneficiaries are the most vulnerable among the estimated half a million displaced persons presently in Burundi. Emergency food aid for this population is estimated at 30 000 tons of cereals, 12 000 tons of pulses and 6 000 tons of other commodities. Against these requirements, stocks and food aid in the pipeline amount to 40 000 tons, leaving a deficit of 8 000 tons.

Out of the planned assistance for 1997, 44 percent of assistance will be provided in Ad hoc Emergency Aid, 39 percent in FFW/Income generation for vulnerable groups, especially women, 10 percent for resettlement rations, 7 percent in supplementary feeding and school feeding programmes. Many of the areas where WFP is working, in particular Cibitoke and Bubanza provinces, southern Kayanza province and northern Gitega province, are often inaccessible to humanitarian personnel due to insecurity. Presently much of the north and west of the country is the scene of conflict, but the situation is in constant evolution, and recent events may foreshadow problems in eastern areas, bordering Tanzania.

In several areas, Karuzi, Kayanza, and Cibitoke provinces in particular, the government is presently implementing a strategy of grouping populations in sites under military protection. In Karuzi for example, high levels of malnutrition have been observed in sites where the population has very limited access to their land because of insecurity. WFP is presently distributing emergency relief rations in these sites.


WFPís logistics operation in Burundi is implemented as part of the regional structure and relies on a pipeline originating in Dar es Salaam. The supply route from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma, Tanzania, by train, and then Kigoma to Bujumbura by barge, has been important for the Burundi programme. After the imposition of a regional embargo in August, WFP Burundi was not able to replenish its stocks until an exemption was made in November 1996 for the importation of humanitarian aid to Burundi. However, the regional embargo on Burundi has prevented any movement of goods through Bujumbura port since August 1996. WFP presently relies on the supply route which runs from Dar es Salaam by rail to Isaka, Tanzania, and then from Isaka by road to Ngozi, Burundi. Although WFP has improved its trucking capacity by road to reach 2 500 tons per month, this route is much less economical that movement by barge and does not have the capacity to meet the maximum monthly requirement. Once food begins to move on the lake, it is expected that WFPís food aid imports will increase up to the requirement of 4 000 tons per month over the course of 1997.

The WFP compound in Ngozi provides storage capacity of 3 500 tons while 4 100 tons of space is available in Bujumbura, for a total of 7 600 tons. Present stocks in-country total some 3 500 tons. WFP relies on private transporters for dispatches within Burundi . Assignment to Burundi of WFP-dedicated trucks from the regional fleet is being considered.

De-facto restrictions by Tanzanian authorities on the importation of fuel has hampered humanitarian activities in Burundi. However, the Regional Sanctions Co-ordination Committee (RSCC) has recently granted WFP authorization to import sufficient fuel supplies on a monthly basis for the humanitarian community which should ease the fuel supply situation.

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
Telex 610181 FAO I
Fax: 0039-6-5225-4495

Ms. Nancy Walters
Desk Officer, OSA, WFP
Telex: 626675 WFP 1
Fax: 0039-6-5228-2861

TOC Return  to menu