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Below normal Vuli production reduces food access

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • February 2014
Below normal Vuli production reduces food access

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • A below-normal Vuli harvest in January/February in the northern and northeastern bimodal areas has households purchasing food during what is normally the post-harvest period, placing some areas in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • Despite below-average Vuli production, staple food prices are very stable across most of the country, facilitating access for the majority of households. The stability comes from the above average Msimu harvest from June to August in the surplus-producing Southern Highlands and from good rice paddy production in 2013 in producing areas.
    • The November to February lean season in southern unimodal areas has reached its peak. January/February rainfall supported casual, agricultural labor opportunities. However, the central parts of the country have been drier, and these areas are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the green consumption starts in March/April.
    Central, marginal areas, including Dodoma and southern Iringa Regions
    • Below normal food and cash crop production in the Dodoma and Southern Iringa regions.
    • Newcastle disease killed 60 percent of chickens in September, making them unavailable for sales during the usual October to March sales period.
    • Earlier than normal market dependence began in September 2013, expected January/February due to below normal household food stocks.
    • Rains starting in March are forecast to be below normal to normal for this area.
    • Agricultural activities and natural product sales will be employed to meet minimal food requirements
    • Green crop harvests will likely become available in April.
    Northern and Northeastern bimodal areas
    • Inadequate incomes and 50 to 60 percent below-normal food production from the 2013/14 Vuli season harvest in January/February.
    • Increasing market demand will likely increase food prices.
    Near Lake Victoria, especially Mwanza and Simuyu Regions
    • Reduced maize imports to this region due to Kenya’s below-average and delayed short rains harvest; Below-average, local Vuli maize production
    • Prices will continue to gradually rise


    Projected outlook through June 2014

    Vuli rains started late, were poorly distributed, and were inadequate for some crops to reach maturity during the September to January 2013/14 season in the bimodal north and northeast and in central, marginal areas of the country. Harvests were estimated at 50 to 60 percent below normal.    

    Central, marginal areas in Dodoma and southern Iringa Region: Following below average November to May 2012/13 Msimu rains, the harvest was also below average.  An outbreak of Newcastle disease in September killed over half of the poor’s chicken flocks.  With low food stocks from the harvest and less income from both crop and chicken sales, households are having to buy more food with less income. Households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until March 2014 when the ongoing rains and associated agricultural activities, provide enough income from casual labor to enable sufficient food purchases and cover other essential expenses.

    Northern, northeastern, and coastal bimodal areas: Prices have remained higher than the rest of the country above their five-year averages. They are likely to increase further, responding to below-average local Vuli production in January/February. Households in these areas will progressively move from None (IPC Phase 1) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between February and March as they need to purchase more food while prices rise. Then in May when nearby, unimodal areas start harvesting the Msimu, prices will fall and access will increase. Households will return to None (IPC Phase 1) after the local Masika harvest starts in July.

    Rice-producing areas near Lake Victoria, primarily in Mwanza and Simuyu Regions: Increased supply of rice nationwide following good 2013 harvests has lowered prices. Poor rice-producing households with low acreage typically sell rice to purchase maize. While not particularly high, gradually rising maize prices and unusually low farm-gate prices for rice are decreasing purchasing power. In this region, maize from Kenya is often imported in January/February as the short rains harvest from across the lake is harvested, but these are constrained this year by below-average national production in Kenya and delays and poor yields from the short rains harvest.

    Despite the continued prevalence of banana bacterial wilt and cassava diseases, households in the Kagera Region that Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to poor production, especially of bananas, have moved to None (IPC Phase 1) as alternative crops from own production and stable market prices have increased food availability and access.

    This year’s bumper harvests in the Southern Highlands and substantial rice production have kept staple food prices stable in almost all parts of the country. All markets are well supplied with staples, even in the bimodal areas that had a below-normal Vuli harvest in January/February.  Price stability has been enhanced by lower than seasonal exports due to recued demand compared to recent years from Rwanda and Burundi following their near average December/January Season A harvests. However, expected high demand for maize and rice from Kenya will likely continue. Maize prices are expected to rise gradually and are likely to remain above their five-year averages but not likely to reach as high as they were in 2012. Rice prices have remained below the five-year average across all monitored markets and far below last year’s prices following duty-free imports and a bumper 2013 harvest. Bean prices will continue to increase and remain above their five-year averages, following the below-average Vuli harvest in January/February.

    Livestock have adequate pasture and water following the recently ended and ongoing rains. Milk availability and livestock prices remain stable.

    The November to May Msimu rains in southern, unimodal areas have been near normal to above normal in terms of total rainfall so far. The rains enabled normal availability of agricultural labor for casual labor-dependent households. Forecasts indicate a majority of the central, marginal, unimodal areas will receive normal to below normal rains through March, but that end of the rains in the Southern Highlands will be normal to above normal through May. In the bimodal areas of the North and Northeast, Vuli harvesting from and Masika land preparation is ongoing. 

    By the end of March, crops will be at the later vegetative stage in the southern, unimodal areas. Masika planting will be ending in the northern, bimodal areas. Green harvests start in April in the Central Regions and in Mayin the Southern Highlands. By the end of June, all areas of the country will have improved to Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    The food security outlook would change significantly if the rising prices the Lake Victoria basin were to spread to other areas, especially if this  were coupled with increasing exports between now and the start of the Msimu harvest in May/June. The National Food Reserve Agency currently has a high level of stocks and will likely release some stocks to moderate prices in the Lake Victoria basin between now and the Masika harvest in July.

    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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