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Armyworms infesting parts of Dodoma and Singida

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • January 2015
Armyworms infesting parts of Dodoma and Singida

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Many farmers across bimodal and unmoral areas have substituted planting sunflower and beans for maize this year. Staple food prices remain well below the five-year average, but are expected to begin increasing by April. Household food security will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through March in most parts of the country. 

    • In Dodoma and Singida, farmers are unable to purchase enough pesticides to control the ongoing army worm outbreak. Low income from crop sales will likely continue to limit farmers’ purchasing power, encouraging further sale of the household maize stocks. Pest damage and high crops sales will lead to low household food stocks later in the year.

    • The northeastern bimodal area had a below-average Vuli harvest. High demand for exports from Kenya will continue to keep food prices higher in these areas and household food stocks low. Households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to limited labor incomes until March when Masika planting starts. In June, the Masika green harvests will likely cause food prices to decline. 


    Central Rift Valley in Singida and Dodoma Regions
    • Low chicken sales following deaths due to a Newcastle disease outbreak in September
    • Farming areas for these households in Kiteto District are blocked by the government following land conflicts
    • Armyworms have infested several areas and consumed recently planted crops. 
    • Weeding and harvesting labor will be limited for migratory laborers.
    • Spread of armyworms to other productive areas, if not contained 
    Northeastern, bimodal lowlands in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha Regions
    • Below normal harvest following erratic and below normal Vuli rainfall
    • Households will continue to have below normal food consumption until Masika harvest in June/July



    Seasonal progress: Vuli crops have matured and are ready to be harvested in northwestern and northeastern highland bimodal areas. Bean harvesting is ongoing in western areas. In unimodal areas, rains started in November and December, but in the central areas, they were delayed by two to three weeks. Thus, crops are at varied developmental stages in different bimodal areas. In unimodal areas, the rains started on time in November, and most areas have received near average rainfall. The rains became heavier in January, and in response, pasture and perennial crops in the highland areas grew. However, late-planted crops, due to a delayed start of season, may not be able to withstand the typical, midseason dry spell in January/February. 

    Staple prices remain below their five-year averages. There are above-average cereal stocks across the country. Cereal prices normally start to increase in September, but this year they decreased from September to December, and they are likely to remain low until March. With the high cost of agricultural inputs for maize cultivation, returns on maize at current prices would be lower than they have been for several years. In reaction to expected lower returns on maize, many farmers along the southern and western borders with Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia, are planting beans and sunflower instead of maize. This may reduce availability of maize in markets and increase consumer maize prices by July. Around Lake Victoria, maize prices have been higher than the rest of the country in recent months due to low local production and high transport costs due to the distance from the southern highlands which had surplus production. Since fuel prices dropped in the beginning of January and national maize production was well above-average, maize prices in this area will likely decrease by February. 

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is expected through the end of June in most areas. Food consumption by both net producer and net consumer households will remain normal with adequate household and market stocks, low food prices, and casual labor opportunities remaining available due to ongoing cultivation in both bimodal and unimodal areas. 

    The northeastern bimodal lowlands in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha Regions

    Poor households are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Below-average September to December Vuli rains slowed crop growth and pasture rejuvenation. Vuli maize and bean production were less than 50 percent of normal. Green consumption and casual labor typically are the main sources of food and income at this time of year, but both are less available due to the below-average Vuli rainfall. Casual agricultural labor will resume in March with land preparation and planting of Masika crops. Households will return to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) when Masika harvests begin in June/July.

    The Central Rift Valley in Dodoma and Singida Regions

    Households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Household food stocks from the 2013/14 Msimu season were depleted in August, but stable prices and supplies from the surplus-producing areas have increased access and availability. Chicken sales remain low following a Newcastle disease outbreak in September that killed many flocks.

    Some areas of Dodoma and Singida are currently infested with armyworms. Currently the local government has no pesticides stocked. If the infestation spreads, it may reduce crop production, pasture availability, and the availability of casual labor opportunities.

    An armyworm outbreak typically occurs in the early growth stages of cereals or pastures from November to January in unimodal areas, and they may continue up to the end of May in bimodal areas. The central areas of Dodoma, Singida, and Morogoro are currently infested in some areas, and it is possible the armyworms will spread to the south and west to cereal surplus-producing areas. Crops affected include maize, rice, sorghum, and millet. Maize is often the most affected because the ground is often not tilled before planting. Affected fields may have total loss. The early stages of infestation can be halted with some small-scale application of pesticides.

    Typically, the government responds to pest outbreaks. The government has five pest control and monitoring centers in Arusha, Dodoma, Mbeya, and Morogoro. Normally, pesticides are procured and stocked in these centers. This season, purchases were delayed as the control centers have staff and resource shortages. Community-based monitoring and control systems by farmers have been fairly slow to respond. The extent of this infestation will depend on the timing and the continuity of the rains.

    Without government assistance, low maize prices may continue to limit farmers’ capacity to respond to the outbreak. Insecticides can cost up to $10 per hectare. Poor farmers may not have the resources to be able to purchase adequate quantities of pesticides in the event of an intensified outbreak. This may result in reduced agricultural labor demand by May as well as reduced maize production. If pasture becomes infested, unusual livestock deaths may occur from the cyanogenesis produced in grasses where armyworms feed and treatment of pasture is not always feasible. This may lead to extensive livestock migration that could lead to conflict over land access.

    A land conflict between pastoralists and crop producers in Kiteto District of Manyara Region has resulted in the government blocking farmers from the Dodoma Region who produce maize in these areas. Farmers have grown crops in these areas for the past few years and they were considered alternative rangelands by pastoralists. The conflict began when livestock herders moved into the area where farmers were expanding their production from last year. The farmers and most casual agricultural laborers are from the Dodoma and Singida Regions. About 75 percent of the maize traded in Dodoma is grown in these areas, and it is a major area for migratory agricultural labor from Dodoma and Singida. Below-average maize production this year may reduce regional food availability.

    Casual labor incomes may be less than usual in April and afterwards by reduced planting in Kitedo District due to conflict between pastoralists and farmers. With the reduction in maize production through crop damage, government restrictions, reduced casual labor migration, and the continuing livelihood decline due to disease and degradation of the environment, households will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Nominal wholesale maize prices in Songea

    Source: Source: Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Marketing

    Figure 3


    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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