Cash Crops and Food Security: A Case of Tea Farmers in Burundi

  •  Pierre C. Bitama    
  •  Philippe Lebailly    
  •  Patrice Ndimanya    
  •  Philippe Burny    


Food security is a genuine challenge in developing countries. To combat food insecurity, various means and strategies are being mobilized. The promotion of cash crops in rural areas is one of the main strategies for improving food security. Accessibility to subsistence staples and stable living conditions for rural farmers are made possible by the relatively high and permanent income from cash crops. This paper addresses the issue of food security by discussing the power of tea crop incomes in a rural tea farming area in Burundi. A survey was conducted in 2019 among 120 smallholder tea farmers in two communes located in the Mugamba natural region of Burundi. The results show that the tea plant contributes significantly to food security for both tea farmers and non-tea farmers. By complementing other livelihood resources, tea incomes improve the food security of smallholder tea farmers. In addition, tea incomes ensure the resilience of smallholder tea farmers during lean seasons and against various shocks. Besides, the perennial nature of the tea plant provides a pension for smallholder tea farmers in their old age.

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