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Despite ongoing Vuli harvests, high staple food prices persist

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • February 2013
Despite ongoing Vuli harvests, high staple food prices persist

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Food security outcomes will remain at IPC phase 2 following increasing food prices across the country in both bimodal and unimodal areas and below normal Vuli harvests in the unimodal areas. It is likely that the lean season will be extended until the next harvest expected in July.

    • Ongoing rains in the unimodal areas are providing the necessary moisture for crop growth and agricultural activities are providing casual labor opportunities to labor dependent households. Maize, bean, rice, and other crops are all at different stages across the unimodal areas.

    • Livestock conditions are good across the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas and the availability of milk is providing cash and dietary diversity among livestock dependent households.





    • High staple food prices across the country since July 2012 are limiting food access for market-dependent households.
    • Prices will likely remain high until April 2013 when the Msimu greens are expected to start in most of the unimodal areas.

    Bimodal Areas

    • As a result of poor rainfall distribution, bimodal areas are experiencing below normal Vuli harvests.
    • Poor Vuli harvests will likely reduce household food supplies and incomes, further contributing to high market prices until July when Masika harvests are expected.

    Kagera Banana  and Cassava Growing areas

    • The prevalence and spread of banana bacterial wilt (BXW) Cassava Mosaic Virus Disease (CMD), and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBD) has continued to reduce the availability of bananas and cassava both as a staple food and cash crop, resulting in increasing demand for non-local food supplies.
    • Food security is likely to remain Stressed following the below normal September to December Vuli rains that has significantly reduced available food at market and household levels as well as cash incomes from crop sales.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    National:  Across the country, all areas are in the lean season with the exception of a few places in the bimodal areas that have access to harvests from the September –December Vuli rains. Food prices have remained high as a result of decreasing household stocks triggering increased dependency on market purchases and thus high demand. Maize prices have remained between 80-120 percent above the five-year average. At national level, there was a 2011/12 production surplus; however at the sub-national level production was far below normal due to poor rains in the marginal cropping parts of bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas. Due to high regional demand, cereal has been informally flowing from surplus areas into neighboring Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Kenya. This outflow, coupled with increased domestic demand and high transportation costs, is contributing to high food and non-food inflation rates. Despite high domestic and regional cereal demand, markets across the country are well supplied with rice, maize flour, potatoes, beans, bananas and cassava. Poor, market-dependent households across the country, particularly in bimodal-to-unimodal transition and central marginal areas, will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between February and March due to high food prices. During the April-June period food security outcomes will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) as Msimu greens become available for consumption in April.

    Through the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), the Government has released 19,000 MT of relief food to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) poor households in Arusha, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Lindi, Mara, Manyara, Morogoro, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Singida, Tabora, and Tanga. In addition to this the Government also released 20,000 MT of maize to markets in order to increase food supplies and lower prices between January and February, and plans to release another 20,000 MT  in March in order to influence market prices. The Government has also waived rice import duty tax in an effort to increase rice supplies in market. So far these interventions have been unsuccessful in lowering price levels and prices continue to rise.

    Ongoing rains in the unimodal areas are facilitating agricultural activities that are providing casual labor opportunities to labor dependent households. This income is enhancing the purchasing power of poor households in these areas. Pasture and water points for livestock are fairly stable following ongoing rains in both bimodal and unimodal areas, and this will ensure household milk availability while also improving dietary diversity and income.

    Recently, since early February there has been a 10-15 day dry spell across the bimodal and unimodal areas. This has facilitated harvesting and drying of the Vuli crops, as well as weeding of Msimu crops in the unimodal areas, and land preparation for Masika crops planted in March in the bimodal areas. Normally, armyworm outbreaks occur between February and March, especially when the country experiences prolonged dry spells or poor rainfall distribution. If this February dry spell is prolonged, inducing irreversible stress to crops, and if armyworm outbreaks occur, the outlook will change significantly.

    Bimodal areas: Since the conclusion of the September to December Vuli rainy season, harvesting of maize, potatoes and beans is ongoing in the highland areas of Kilimanjaro, Mara, Kigoma, Kagera and Arusha.  As a result of poor rains at the start of the season, poor bean production has been experienced in some parts of Kagera and Mara.

    Banana-growing areas of Kagera Region:  The prevalence BXW coupled with CBD and CMD are resulting in the reduction of the staple and cash crops. Households in the affected areas will have to depend on markets longer than expected to source their food supplies.  High food prices will limit food access until May when prices are expected to start declining following Msimu harvests. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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