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Food prices remain above average during the unimodal harvest

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • August 2015
Food prices remain above average during the unimodal harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Staple food prices have been above average since May, likely due to 18 percent below-average production for 2014/15. The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has been selling maize in deficit markets since June. Prices are not expected to increase substantially, as maize will likely continue to be exported into the Greater Horn of Africa, but not to southern Africa. 

    • In the Rift Valley and nearby midland areas, household food stocks from 2014/15 are exhausted, three months earlier than when this typically happens in November. Households have limited purchasing power from income from crops sales and agricultural labor as production is below average. Poor households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until October, when land preparation begins.

    • In Nyarugusu Camp, more than 84,000 refugees and asylum seekers arrived from April to August 18 according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with an arrival rate of 200 persons a day. Food distributions are ongoing and households are receiving adequate kilocalories. Households will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through December.



    Central Rift Valley in Singida, Dodoma, Shinyanga, and Tabora Regions
    • Incomes are below-average: crop sales are minimal due to low production, firewood and charcoal are over-supplied leading to lower prices, and agricultural labor demand is lower than normal.
    • Household expenditure for food has increased, with staple prices above their five-year averages due to high local demand, poor agricultural production, and above average transport costs from the Southern Highlands
    • Chicken sales will likely decrease due to a Newcastle disease outbreak, likely occurring in September. The disease is endemic and its effect is exacerbated by an inadequate cold chain for vaccines. Household food access and dietary diversity will be lower than normal. 
    Northeastern, bimodal areas
    • Masika harvest likely 20 to 25 percent below the five-year average due to a dry spell in February/March.
    • Income from crop sales and agricultural labor lower than normal due to uneven rainfall distribution
    • Maize prices are atypically increasing at harvesting time in most markets
    • Households may turn to the market two months earlier than normal, in September, due to low household stocks. Low incomes from crops sales and labor may lead to low food access.
    • Staple food prices may increase in October, two months earlier than normal, due to above average volume of market purchases, below-average local production, and demand for export to Kenya.
    Refugees and asylum-seekers from Burundi in Kigoma Region 
    • Over 84,507 people arrived from Burundi from April to 18 August
    • Health facilities, housing, and water points are being constructed, but remain inadequate for the number of people arriving.
    • Refugees lack income to purchase supplementary food, leading to poor dietary diversity. 
    • Services like water, health care, and shelter access may continue to be limited as new residents arrive. 



    Seasonal progress: In the Masika areas, harvesting and drying are ongoing. The Msimu harvest has ended across unimodal areas while the higher elevation areas continue drying. Rainfall from November to May season was below average and poorly distributed. Additionally an extensive dry spell occurred from February to March.

    Nationwide, maize prices are slightly above their five-year averages. Maize prices across the country have been increasing in both surplus-producing and deficit areas despite food availability increases from the recent and ongoing harvest and crop sales. According to the Southern Africa Regional Supply report, FEWS NET estimates that this year’s national maize deficit is approximately 36 percent below last year, but only 18 percent below the five-year average. Fuel taxes and global fuel price increases are also contributing to the higher than average prices.

    Food is flowing from surplus producing areas to deficit national and export markets, like Kenya. Additionally, the NFRA is selling maize below market price in the deficit production areas of Dodoma, Shinyanga, and Dar es Salaam, encouraging further food availability and accessibility.

    Dodoma, Shinyanga, Tabora, and Singida Regions

    A quarter of the poor households in the Rift Valley will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through October. Labor demand by wealthy households is low due to below average cash and food crop sales from cash crops like cotton, simsim (sesame), and rice paddy. Poor households, who typically earn income through casual labor, have poor purchasing power. Production was well below average due to an extended dry spell in February to March that resulted in 70 to 90 percent losses in maize and other staple crops. Poor households will continue to depend on coping strategies like increased charcoal and firewood sales, likely resulting in price declines due to over-supply. Households may also engage in and petty trade of small quantities of food commodities and local brew. Local chicken production and sales will likely be disrupted by a Newcastle disease outbreak due to an inadequate cold chain for vaccines. Most chicken flocks perish during the dry season, but may be replaced when the wet season returns in January. Households are likely to move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in October/November when land preparation and dry planting starts, providing cash or food from farming activities.

    In the midlands areas near the Rift Valley, where production was about 60 percent of normal, households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Household production will likely be consumed by September, two months earlier than normal, leading to poor food access with the limited income earning opportunities at this time. Households will likely return to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in November, when agricultural labor demand seasonally increases, for planting. 

    Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Nyarugusu Camp in Kigoma Region

    According to the UNHCR, 84,507 asylum-seekers and refugees have arrived at Nyarugusu Camp between April 1 to August 18 from Burundi. Lack of income for refugees has led to low purchasing power to supplement the food rations. Refugees and asylum seekers will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through December.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

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    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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