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Off-season rains in southern, unimodal areas may damage maturing crops

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • May 2014
Off-season rains in southern, unimodal areas may damage maturing crops

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • With access to food from markets and from recent harvests, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is expected from June to September in most areas. However, localized pockets of food insecurity are likely in Dodoma, Mwanza, and Mara Regions following below normal March to May rainfall in these areas which will likely reduce the size of the Masika harvest.
    • Maize and rice prices will likely continue to be stable due to adequate availability of stocks from the 2013 harvests and likely average to above-average production from the Msimu harvest from May to July. There is increasing demand for maize from Kenya, likely leading to higher prices in some border areas.
    • The recent off-season rains in the southern, unimodal areas may lead to crops rotting or the discoloration of grains, limiting profit from crop sales and reducing the storability of grain. Prices may rise and food availability on markets may be reduced or delayed.




    Northern and northeastern 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.
    • High food prices as a result of transport costs from the southern regions


    • Food stocks from December to February Vuli harvests will not last until the Masika harvest in July.
    • Increasing demand for maize for cross-border trade may limit access to food by leading to higher prices.


    Projected Outlook Through September 2014

    The normal November to April Msimu season has ended in unimodal areas. The country had adequate moisture for crop growth likely leading to harvests similar to the 2013 season. This production may be limited by additional off-season rains that fell in late May and are forecast to continue by the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA). If heavy rains continue beyond mid-June in unimodal areas, there is the possibility of large losses of bean, potato, and maize crops. However, most forecasts point towards more moderate rains. This would delay the drying and transportation of crops to markets. With the harvest and marketing delayed, the seasonally high prices of the lean season may continue. However, if the rains end by mid-June, the Southern Highlands would likely have another bumper harvest.

    In the central areas of Dodoma, the March to May Masika season had a late and poor start with erratic rainfall throughout, likely resulting in below normal crop production in some localized areas.

    In the bimodal areas, rainfall is ongoing and crops are at their late vegetative to grain-filling stages. The majority of these areas received above-normal rainfall in April and May. Availability of adequate moisture will facilitate lentil and sweet potato crops reaching full maturity. It will also provide opportunities for on-farm labor including weeding and fertilizer application for labor-dependant households.

    Areas that previously reported a one to two month moisture deficit in Moshi are now receiving normal rainfall. Some areas around Lake Victoria in Mwanza and Mara have had below normal rainfall, retarding crop growth. However, if rains continue as forecast, there is still time for many crops to reach maturity in these areas. This is the second consecutive season of below average rainfall for both of these areas, although less than ideal production continues to be a chronic issue for Rorya District in Mara Region.

    Adequate moisture in the unimodal areas and above-normal rainfall received in most bimodal areas has allowed pasture regeneration, and the rains have fully recharged water points for livestock. Dietary diversity will remain normal for pastoral and agropastoral households as milk consumption and cash from milk sales for purchasing other food items have been near normal this season. Livestock sales will continue with favorable terms of trade due to normal livestock body weight. Livestock migration will remain minimal due to the adequate forage and water resources. This will reduce the risk of conflict between livestock herders and fully settled farmers. The situation is anticipated to remain stable until at least the end of July.

    Green harvests of maize, beans, potatoes, cassava, bananas, and peas as well as maize, beans, and rice stocks from the 2013 production season are available in the market. Farmers are now accessing their own harvests, and green harvests are available on the market. Prices are stable as demand is seasonally falling. However, across all monitored markets, maize prices have remained above their five-year averages except in Mbeya where they are below the five-year average. Compared to March, April maize prices have remained stable and below 2013 prices.

    Cross-border export of maize from Tanzania to Kenya began earlier than normal in April instead of in May. Maize prices started increasing in markets with active cross-border trade through Musoma and Moshi in April, one month earlier than expected. These markets recorded increased maize prices due to the high quantity of maize exports and low local supply. Supplies reaching these markets are from the surplus-producing Southern Highlands. In the absence of an export ban, the unusually high demand from neighboring countries will further increase maize prices in markets bordering Kenya, reducing food access for poor households who had below-normal Vuli production in January/February. These households typically purchase food, but their cash crops and livestock still have favorable terms of trade with maize.

    Rice prices were stable from March to April. However, all prices have remained between nine and 26 percent above the last year with the exception of Mbeya where they are the same as last year. Low supplies of beans as a result of low 2013 Vuli production in northern, bimodal areas in January/February and high demand for beans from neighboring countries have kept bean prices above their five-year averages. The approaching Msimu bean harvest in the southern, unimodal areas will start the seasonal decline of prices as it starts to move into markets in June.

    Food security outcomes would change significantly if a ban on exports was enacted to curb the likely above-average demand for cereals from Tanzania to neighboring countries, although it is not the most likely event to occur at this time. Currently rain is influenced by the Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures (SST) which are causing volatile weather patterns. In the most likely scenario rains will continue mildly, delaying harvests and causing minimal losses. If heavy and prolonged rainfall continues beyond May in the central regions of Dodoma and Singida and June to July in the Southern Highland areas, this may result in significant crop losses through rotting, discoloration, and regermination, thus increasing prices and reducing household income from crop sales. Alternatively, if the rains end by mid-June, the Southern Highlands would likely have another bumper harvest, regionally improving the availability of food in much of eastern and southern Africa.

    Northern, northern-eastern, and coastal bimodal areas: Reduced availability of food and income as a result of a below normal Vuli harvest in January/February increased the number of people who were Stressed (IPC Phase 2). TMA forecasts indicate adequate rainfall will continue through June, likely supporting crops to maturity. Agricultural activities have continued providing casual labor opportunities and thus adequate income to purchase food. Increasing availability of green maize in neighboring unimodal areas will continue to provide an alternative staple on markets that is less expensive than dry maize. In the event of large-scale exports, the Government of Tanzania will likely release maize reserves to markets to help stabilize food prices.

    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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