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Stable food prices across the country ensure food access for poor households

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • April 2014
Stable food prices across the country ensure food access for poor households

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Green harvests have started in the southern, unimodal areas. With less demand on market from these areas and market stores from last year remaining available, food prices will continue to be stable until the 2014 Msimu harvest from May through July. At that time, prices will likely start to decline.
    • Food prices are stable in the northern, bimodal areas due to supplies on markets from southern, unimodal areas. With stable prices, poor households are able to purchase food from markets. These areas have moved from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1).
    • Heavier than expected rains in the coastal, bimodal areas in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Pwani, and northern Morogoro in March and April mean that cumulative rainfall during the March to May Masika season will likely be near normal.

    Projected Outlook Through September 2014

    The lean season has ended in the southern, central, and western unimodal areas following green harvests in March/April. Households continue to release stocks from the 2013 production season, making maize, beans, rice, and sorghum available on the market. Green harvests of maize, beans, and banana, and sweet and Irish potatoes are abundantly available in markets, serving as substitutes for maize and other grains and effectively helping drive down grain prices. The government has finalized the distribution 28,000 metric tons (MT) of maize for distribution to targeted poor households in Mwanza, Dodoma, Tabora, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Morogoro, northern Iringa, and Mara. April brought improved food availability from green crops and increased access to food through purchases funded by casual labor in the central marginal rainfall area that are changing the area from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    Maize prices have remained unseasonably stable since January 2014, slightly above their five-year averages, but well below 2012. From February to March, there was a two to 15 percent price decrease across the country, responding to decreasing maize demand by household who are consuming substitutes from their own production. Rice prices have slowly increased since July, but they remain below their five-year averages across all monitored markets and well below 2012 prices. The exception was Dar es Salaam where March rice prices were still at the five-year average. Demand for Tanzanian rice within East Africa picks up in June, and it remains high until October following harvests. Bean harvests in early 2014 across the region were poor, so neighboring countries are depending on supplies from Tanzania, unseasonably increasing bean prices. March bean prices were moderately above their five-year averages with an exception in Songea market where there was a significant drop in price from February to March due to the start of the Msimu bean harvest. Bean prices in the rest of the country will likely remain high until June/July when supplies from both Msimu and Masika harvests are sold onto markets.

    Ongoing rainfall in both bimodal and unimodal areas is providing adequate moisture for pasture regeneration and grazing and has recharged water points for livestock. Milk for consumption and sales is adequately available to households, and livestock migration is declining as the needed resources are becoming locally available in many areas. Livestock body conditions will remain near average due to ample food and water, ensuring favorable terms of trade for those raising livestock through July. Conflicts have subsided between farmers and pastoralists in Morogoro, Pwani, and Lind following livestock returning to their normal grazing land. There has been   livestock in-migration from Tanga, Manyara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, and Shinyanga  to coastal areas that has caused these conflicts. They are returning back  as water and grazing lands are improving as r result of ongoing rains.

    In the central areas of Dodoma and Singida, Msimu rains will end in April with crops reaching maturity around that time or shortly thereafter. The delayed start of the December to April Msimu rains in Dodoma may leave some crops premature when the rains end. In the Southern Highland areas of Mbeya, Iringa, and Rukwa, crops are at the grain-filling stage, and they will have matured when the rains end in May. We expect rains to continue in the southeastern and coastal areas beyond the crop maturation stage, which may increase losses. In the rest of the bimodal areas, planting of Masika crops has been completed. The March to May rains started with near normal timing except for the Kilimanjaro area, where the rains started late. However, in this area, the rains gradually increased in among and are ongoing. The Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) shows bimodal crops are at the vegetative stage, and vegetation conditions are average to above average.

    The March and April rainfall in eastern unimodal and coastal areas has been above normal, and in southern areas, it has been mostly below normal. In the early part of the season there were not as many tropical cyclones bringing rain inland, but due to warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures (SST’s) in the southwest Indian Ocean, there have been late occurrences of tropical cyclones that are taking an unusual path northward to the Tanzanian coastline and are expected to continue, resulting in heavy rains as observed in the recent past weeks, especially in coastal areas. These torrential rains and floods damaged infrastructure and flooded cropping areas in the lowlands. The flooding helped improve the conditions for rice for small-scale rice growers in Coast, Morogoro, Dar es Salaam, and Tanga Regions. The normal to below normal rainfall forecast by the 36th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHCOF 36) and the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) may be revised down due to the current rainfall patterns. The European Center for Mid-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) shows near normal rainfall for the coastal and northern bimodal areas for the remainder of the season through May, and slightly below average rainfall in the southern unimodal areas expected from May to July.

    Food security outcomes would change significantly if the Masika rain stops in the bimodal areas before the crops reach maturity, resulting in decreased availability of labor opportunities and a reduced volume of the harvest. This may increase food prices as traders hold onto supplies for release later in the year in anticipation of higher prices. If Msimu rainfalls continue beyond May in the central region and beyond June to July in the southern highland areas, this may result in destruction of crops through rotting, discoloration, and re-germination or delayed availability of food in markets. These events would also increase prices.

    Northern, northeastern, and coastal bimodal areas:

    Reduced availability of food and incomes as a result of below normal Vuli harvests in January/February increased the number of people who were Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Households who normally produce adequate food are currently relying on market purchases. Ongoing agricultural activities for the Masika season are providing cash for casual labor-dependant households. Improving availability of moisture  following heavy rains in Marc through April will continue supporting agricultural activities and thus ensure labor and income to poor households. Stable market prices will continue supporting food access and thus move households that were in Stressed ( IPc Phase 2) to minimal food insecurity in April. Availability of greens in the unimodal areas will continue ensuring adequate supplies of alternative food in the bimodal areas markets.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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