Kirundo and Muyinga Governors’ protective measures cause beans shortage in Bujumbura

Beans, a staple food in Burundi, have been scarce in the capital since the end of 2016, costing 50% more than they did in October. Kamenge wholesalers say the shortage of beans in the capital Bujumbura might stem from the measures by governors of some northern provinces to restrict the trade of staple food.

Beans sale point in Kamenge area, North Bujumbura.

Beans sale point in Kamenge area, North Bujumbura.

Dina Mwashiti, a Congolese woman who was buying beans in Nyakabiga, said the rise in food price is a big problem.” You may expect to buy 20 kilograms of beans, but when you arrive at the market, you find things are so expensive that you only buy 10 kilograms”, says Mwashiti.

Goreth Manirakiza, a wholesaler in Kamenge northern part of Bujumbura, says one of the causes of beans price increase might stem from the measure by governors of some provinces, for instance Kirundo, to restrict the staple food trade. “Over the past years, we could sell beans for BIF 800 during the harvest season, but now the lowest price is BIF 1,350”, says Manirakiza.

“Kirundo province produces more beans. However, we are not allowed to transport beans from the province, the reason why we sell them at high prices. If we could get the permission to buy them from Kirundo and Muyinga provinces, the prices would go down considerably “, says one of the beans’ sellers on condition of anonymity.

One buyer found in kamenge says anonymously: “This is the harvest season. We cannot understand how prices do not fall”.

Pascal Niyonkuru, a seller of beans from Kamenge, calls on the government to allow the transport of beans from productive provinces like Kirundo to the capital.

Aline Manirabarusha, Governor of Muyinga Northern Province, says the measure to restrict the movement of staple foods aims to protect their people from hunger. “Harvest has not been good this year”, says Manirabarusha.

Térence Ntahiraja, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, says the governor of Kirundo has taken the measure to prevent his population from selling all their food products. “Kirundo people suffered hunger last year. So, he wants to avoid the same problem in his province, says Ntahiraja.

Aimable Nkunzumwami, Assistant to the Minister of Trade, says he is not aware of the trade restriction measures.