Tanzania Food Security snapshot - GIEWS Country Brief

Reference Date: 11-February-2014

  • Erratic “vuli” season rains affected cereal production in some northern bimodal areas 
  • Favourable outlook for 2014 “msimu” crops 
  • Maize prices stable or increasing but lower than twelve months earlier 
  • Favourable food security conditions with pockets of food insecurity where localized production shortfalls occurred 

Erratic “vuli” season rains affected cereal production in some northern bimodal areas 

In northern bimodal rainfall areas, harvesting of the second season “vuli” season crops, which contributes to approximately 30 percent of the total annual cereal production, is underway. Late and erratic rainfall in parts of Shinyanga, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Pwania and Morogoro regions negatively impacted crop development and yields in the affected areas. Earlier in the year, the 2013 first season “masika” crops, harvested from late June, benefited from abundant and well distributed rainfall in most cropping areas. 
In southern and central unimodal rainfall areas, harvesting of 2013 “msimu” coarse grains was completed in June. Crop production was average in most areas, with the exception of some central marginal areas in Dodoma and Singida regions which have experienced a prolonged dry spell in February and an early cessation of rains in March. 
Aggregate cereal production in 2013 (including the forecast for the 2013 “vuli” production) is put at 7.7 million tonnes, 5 percent down from last year’s levels but still 8 percent above the average of the previous five years. The cereal import requirement in the 2013/14 (July/June) marketing year is forecast at about 800 000 tonnes (including 600 000 tonnes of wheat and 200 000 tonnes of rice) compared to imports of 930 000 tonnes in 2012/13. 

Favourable outlook for 2014 “msimu” crops
In central and southern unimodal areas, planting of the 2013 long rains “msimu” season crops, to be harvested next May/June, has been completed at the beginning of January. A late onset of seasonal rains of about twenty days has been reported in parts; however, the above average rainfall received from November onwards more than compensated for the early season dryness, and, according to remote sensing analysis, crops are in good condition, especially in key growing areas of Iringa and Mbeya provinces in the south-western highlands. Official meteorological forecasts point to average rainfall amounts until March: in particular, rains are forecast at normal to above normal levels over Iringa and eastern Mbeya, and at normal to below normal levels over western Mbeya. 

Maize prices stable or increasing but lower than twelve months earlier 
Prices of maize were increasing or stable in recent months in most markets, with normal seasonal patterns being compounded by concerns over the performance of the “vuli” harvest, currently underway. By contrast, in Dar es Salaam, the largest urban market, prices followed a declining trend after having reached record levels in October 2013. Overall, maize prices in January were between 8 and 22 percent below their levels of twelve months earlier, mainly due to the adequate availabilities from the satisfactory 2013 cereal production. 
Prices of rice were mostly stable at low levels in recent months, due to improved availabilities from the satisfactory 2013 harvest and reduced exports following an import ban introduced by neighbouring countries 
such as Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. In January 2014, rice prices were almost 30 percent below the levels of twelve months earlier. Low prices of rice, a substitute for maize for urban consumers, are likely to
have exerted a downward pressure on maize prices and to have contributed to the decline in maize prices observed in Dar es Salaam in recent months. 

Favourable food security conditions with pockets of food insecurity where localized production shortfalls occurred 
Overall, food security conditions have remained favourable during the lean season in both bimodal and unimodal areas. However, pockets of food insecurity exist where localized production shortfalls occurred: 
  • Households affected by a reduced Vuli food production in northern bimodal rainfall areas will likely deplete their food stocks in April instead of July. An early dependence on markets combined with limited income generating activities will likely result in Stressed (IPC phase 2) outcomes. 
  • In the Central marginal areas of Dodoma and southern parts of Iringa regions, households are facing the lingering effects of a poor 2012/13 Msimu season, resulting in earlier and heavier dependence on markets, which combined with high cereal prices (in Iringa market, maize prices are the highest on record) has resulted in Stressed food insecurity (IPC phase 2) in the period between January and March. 
  • In some areas of Kagera region, where bananas and cassava crops are the major staples, food production has been significantly reduced following the infestation of banana bacterial wilt (BXW), cassava mosaic virus disease, and cassava brown streak disease (CBD&CMD). As a result, market dependence has increased, resulting in high demand of food from outside the livelihood zone. Currently, this region is facing Stressed (IPC phase 2) food security conditions that are expected to end in February, when alternative food crops (yams and potatoes from the Vuli season) will become available at household and market levels. 
On 21 and 22 January 2014 heavy rains caused flooding in the districts of Kilosa, Mvomero and Gairo in the Morogoro region. An estimated 13 557 people have been affected, and damage to infrastructure, farms 
and food stocks has also been reported.