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March to May rainfall likely to lead to an above-average Msimu harvest

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • March 2014
March to May rainfall likely to lead to an above-average Msimu harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Normal to below normal Masika forecast for Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Pwani, and northern Morogoro is likely to lead to reduced labor demand and a below average Masika harvest in July. This is following the poor Vuli harvest in January/February that led poor households to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • Stable food prices, ample casual labor opportunities, the approaching green harvests, and food assistance distribution to food insecure households will move many households from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to None (IPC Phase 1) in the unimodal areas of Dodoma and southern Iringa beginning in April.
    • The March to May forecast in the unimodal areas indicates another normal to above normal production season reversing below normal expectations after flooding and a poor and erratic start of rains in some areas.




    Northern and north eastern, bimodal areas

    • Inadequate incomes and below normal food production as a result of below average October to December 2013 Vuli rains have increased food insecurity.
    • Food stocks from September–December Vuli harvests will not last until Masika harvest in July
    • High demand of food for cross-border export to Kenya
    • Increasing demand on markets will likely continue reducing available food, keeping prices relatively high between April and June.

    Central, marginal-rainfall areas of Dodoma and Iringa

    • Below normal food and cash crop production during the 2012/13 Msimu season
    • Limited income earned from chicken sales due to disease-related bird deaths
    • Two to three months earlier than normal market purchases
    • Farming activities will continue providing casual labor opportunities.
    • Ongoing December to April government distribution of relief and subsidized food
    • Green harvests are expected in April.


    Projected outlook through June 2014

    The lean season is approaching an end in the southern, unimodal areas. Markets continue to have adequate supplies of a variety of foods, attributed to above average harvest in 2013. Household who had held onto stocks are now releasing them  after the forecast of another promising season. Households are using the proceeds for food and non-food household needs. The government has released 28,000 metric tons (MT) of maize for distribution to the poor households. Some will also be used for targeted sales at subsidized prices in pocket areas where there was below-average food production in both bimodal areas and the central, marginal-rainfall areas. In the banana growing areas of Kagera, production has recovered from the Banana wilt disease (BXW). Central areas will soon access green harvests in April. These improvements in food access, combined with the food distributions are significantly reducing the number of food insecure populations.

    Maize prices are stable, and slightly above their five-year averages, but they are well below 2012 prices. Rice prices have been slowly increasing since July, but have remained below their five-year averages across all monitored markets and well below 2012 prices. Bean prices have continued increasing and are moderately above the five-year average, with an exception of Songea market that is 75 percent above the five-year average, and 64 percent above last year’s prices. Dar es Salaam also is recording prices above 2012 and last year. This is attributed to a high demand for beans for planting in both bimodal and unimodal areas and export markets to neighboring countries. Songea market normally records the lowest prices in the country from March through November, and from December to February prices are typically higher for the planting season occurring at the same time. This year prices are much higher due to the previous poor harvest.

    Livestock-dependent households are still receiving adequate milk and good terms of trade as the livestock have healthy body weights due to adequate pasture and water from the ongoing rains. It is likely that the situation will remain stable through July.

    Unimodal areas started the Vuli season poorly with both flooding and erratic rains in some areas, signaling a likely poor season; however the thirty-sixth Greater Horn Climate Outlook Forum (GHCOF 36) and the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) forecasts for March to May indicate adequate moisture through April/May in these areas, which will likely compensate for the moisture shortfalls and delays that were experiences in some areas with the exception of the northern coastal area. This area will receive normal to below normal rains. This area already experienced a poor Vuli harvest in 2013 that left some households with limited stock and cash to purchase food. Forecasts indicate a majority of the central unimodal areas will receive normal to above normal rains through April. The southern highlands forecast shows normal to above normal rains through May. In the bimodal areas, land preparation and planting for the Masika season is ongoing. The area benefited from unseasonal rains in February, which facilitated land preparation and pasture regeneration. 

    Food prices are anticipated to remain stable throughout the outlook period due to the previous year’s above average harvest for maize and rice. Maize prices will likely remain stable, but above the five-year average. Rice prices will remain below the five-year average. Bean prices will likely remain high until the next harvest in May in the unimodal areas. This outlook would change significantly if surplus maize and rice is not exported resulting in decreased farm gate prices during the coming consumption year. Poor farming households would have reduced purchasing power to buy other types of food. Prices may otherwise rise as a result of excess food exports, beyond the surplus available in-country, through cross border trade. Currently the cross-border trade is at minimal levels.

    Central marginal rainfall area of Dodoma and southern parts of Iringa regions: 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. However, agricultural activities have continued providing incomes for food purchase, and the government has also provided free and subsidized food in these areas. This assistance has prevented households from further food insecurity and livelihood damage. Households will remain under Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until green harvests are available in April.

    Northern, northeastern, and coastal bimodal areas:  Food 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 and increased household demand on the market. Households in these areas will progressively move from None (IPC Phase 1) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in March as they need to purchase more food while prices rise. TMA forecasts indicate normal to below normal rains in the northern coastal area, which may reduce the opportunity for employment on local farms, further reducing cash available for households to purchase food.

    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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