Adequate rainfall between February and April resulted in a good crop yield across most of Burundi, with officials predicting improved food security in many parts of the country.
"There is a significant improvement in the harvest for this season; and the main reason for the increase in agricultural production is [the] regularity of rains," said Reverien Nzigamasabo, agricultural director for the northern Kirundo Province, considered the country's bread basket, which has been hit by drought in recent years.
He said the production of beans, one of the Burundi's staple foods, was progressing well, with the province continuing to receive rainfall.
Sebatien Ndikumagenge, a senior official in the Ministry of Agriculture and Stockbreeding, told IRIN the good rains had greatly boosted agricultural production countrywide, with the rains continuing into June in areas such as Kirundo.
As a result of the good crop yield, prices in some markets had significantly dropped. A kilogramme of beans in Kirundo now goes for 200 Burundian francs (US$0.16) from 600 francs ($0.40) previously.
Gratien Ndururutse, agricultural director for the western Muyinga Province, said food shortages in the region were unlikely this year.
In 2008, heavy rains fell in February, destroying crops, and then stopped earlier than farmers expected, resulting in food shortages in parts of the country.
Ndikumagenge said the government and its partners, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Belgian Development Cooperation Agency, had made good-quality seeds, particularly beans, mosaic-resistant cassava cuttings and sweet potatoes available to farmers.
The May issue of Système d’Alerte Précoce, Surveillance de la Securité Alimentaire - a monthly bulletin published by several UN agencies and the Ministry of Agriculture - reported that 93,866 households benefited from cassava seeds while 62,600 received sweet potato seeds.
Farmers also received fertilizer. “Though not all farmers got fertilizers, a majority of them accessed the fertilizers funded this year by the government to make them affordable," Ndikumagenge said.
Agriculture officials also attributed the good crop yield to sustained supervision of farmers by agricultural technicians at the grassroots level.
Photo: Judith Basutama/IRIN
Preparing land for potato planting: The government of Burundi and its development partners have made good-quality seeds, particularly beans, mosaic-resistant cassava cuttings and sweet potatoes available to farmers
However, agricultural officials are worried some farmers could sell all their harvest, leading to a shortage of seeds in the next planting season.
Nzigamasabo said traders in Kirundo had started buying beans for strategic stocks to sell them at a higher price during the next planting season.
"Farmers might end up buying the seeds at 600 Burundi francs [$0.40] or more, whereas they are given for less than half [this price] now," Nzigamasabo said.
To prevent the shortage of seeds, agricultural officials are sensitising farmers to avoid selling their entire yield.
Agricultural officials have also provided storehouses to help farmers store their yield.
"Any farmer willing to keep his yield can bring it to a managing committee and can collect it for future use later on," Nzigamasabo said.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions