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Harvest likely well below average in central Rift Valley

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • May 2015
Harvest likely well below average in central Rift Valley

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • From April 1st to May 27th 47,929 people left Burundi fleeing the threat of political violence and seeking asylum in Tanzania according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Many are from Bururi Province along the shore of Lake Tanganyika. They are now being housed at Nyarugusu Camp in Kisulu District, Kigoma Region, Tanzania. Most of the asylum seekers are currently dependent upon emergency food assistance as their primary source of food, and the World Food Program (WFP) plans to provide 21-day dry food rations. Income-earning options are limited though some charcoal and firewood sales are occurring. 

    • Despite above-average May rainfall in much of the central Rift Valley in the areas that are in the transition between unimodal and bimodal rainfall regimes, a well below-average Msimu harvest is likely to come later than usual. Many households will lack a green harvest, effectively prolonging the lean season into August and September. A long dry spell in February and March stunted many crops, especially maize and sorghum, affecting the lowlands and midlands in Dodoma, Singida, Tabora, and Shinyanga Regions. The pockets where agricultural labor incomes were the lowest and pest damage the highest may move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in August and September during the extended lean season.

    • In coastal, central, northern, and some western areas of Tanzania, wholesale maize prices sharply increased from March to April. However, in many areas, wholesale maize prices still remain below their five-year averages, largely due to traders still holding stocks from last year’s harvest. As more of the ongoing harvest from the Southern Highlands enters the market by July, further maize price rises become more unlikely.

    Central Rift Valley in Singida, Dodoma, Shinyanga, and Tabora Regions
    • Low agricultural labor demand due to low planted area and wilted crops
    • Low planted area for maize
    • Staple food prices increased starting in March, constraining food access
    • Below-average crop production is limiting food and income
    • Labor demand may even remain low during the delayed Msimu harvest in July/August
    • Market purchases may begin as early as five months earlier than normal in July instead of November.
    Areas of Kigoma Region bordering Burundi and Lake Taganyika
    • Large-scale arrivals from Burundi
    • Prices may increase as a result of higher demand, especially for cassava and beans
    Northeastern, bimodal lowlands in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha Regions
    • Maize prices sharply increased from March to April.
    • A three to four week late start of Masika rains in March/April
    • Harvests will likely be below average as some later planted crops may not reach maturity.
    • Delayed harvests may delay the typical seasonal decrease that follows the start of green harvest until July.
    • The green harvest has been delayed from June until July due to the late start of the rains


    Projected outlook through September 2015

    Seasonal progress: Msimu rains in the central regions and Southern Highland areas have ended. Crops reached maturity in the Southern Highlands. In the central areas, a dry spell in February to March caused wilting of early planted crops, but between ten and 15 percent of the total planted area was late planted crops, primarily in the midlands surrounding the Rift Valley. Late-planted crops will likely reach maturity. In the bimodal areas of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, and Tanga, rainfall will likely end after the first week of June. Crops there are at the early to late vegetative stages and may not reach full maturity. Pasture and water availability for livestock are adequate.

    Maize prices sharply increased in April. Despite available cereal supplies from the previous season, maize prices increased. This is likely in response to the wilting of crops in some of the central unimodal and northern bimodal areas. It is unlikely the prices will continue increasing, given that there are an estimated 450,000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize still held by traders and farmers from the 2014 harvest. The approaching Msimu harvests from June to August in the Southern Highlands will start to enter markets soon and are likely to keep prices stable.

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is expected in the Southern Highlands and western bimodal area.

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

    Masika maize is still in the vegetative stage in northeastern bimodal areas. A dry spell from February to March wilted most maize crops. Some households replanted, but some crops revived after rainfall became heavier. Much of the crop will be delayed. Weeding and fertilizing were finished by mid-May. As rains end at the normal time in early June, a majority of maize may not reach maturity. The end of the lean season will also be delayed by a month as green harvests will not be available until July. Dry harvesting will be delayed until August/September and be below average. Poor households will likely continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.

    The Rift Valley in Dodoma, Shinyanga, Tabora, and Singida Regions

    Some poor households will reach Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in July/August, primarily in Dodoma Region. A dry spell from February to March wilted sorghum, maize, bulrush millets, and paddy. Cotton, sunflower, and simsim (sesame) were also severely water stressed. Rainfall resumed in April supplying moisture for paddies, and allowing pasture regrowth, but not all grain crops recovered. Sweet potatoes were planted, mainly in Shinyanga, Tabora, and Singida. These rains allowed growth of late-planted maize, sunflower, and pearl millet. However, with crops being planted much later than normal or developing later than normal, the green harvest has been delayed until July. This will extend the lean season into July/August this year. During this extension of the lean season, poor households or those who have lost their crop to pests will likely enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The harvest will briefly increase food access, but by the end of October most households will have consumed these stocks. Additionally, likely outbreaks of Newcastle disease may reduce income from chicken sales.

    Nyarugusu Camp in Kigoma Region

    According to UNHCR, from April 1st to May 27th, 47,929 people arrived in Tanzania from Burundi. Many came from border towns along Lake Tanganyika, and many had lived as refugees in Tanzania during the Burundian Civil War. Most are staying in Nyarugusu Camp in Kisulu District, Kigoma Region. Many arrived with farming tools, but they often left behind mature or maturing crops in Burundi. Some of these households were only recently repatriated to Burundi from refugee camps closed in Tanzania between 2009 and 2013.

    The World Food Program (WFP) is supplying emergency food assistance in the camp and reception centers in Kigoma. They are supplying high energy biscuits and dates upon arrival. After registration, households are given a 14-day ration, and plans are for general food distributions (GFD) every 21 days.

    These populations are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only due to receiving humanitarian assistance. The rations are designed to meet food-energy requirements and currently include maize, pulses, corn-soy blend, vegetable oil, and salt. While a few households may have cash savings, most have few income-earning options right now, being limited primarily to firewood and charcoal sales in and around the camps. They are unlikely to be meeting all necessary non-food expenditures. 


    Figure 1


    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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