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Market-dependent households continue to face high food prices

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • November 2012
Market-dependent households continue to face high food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The September to December Vuli rains are ongoing. In most areas, pasture and water points are replenishing. Agricultural activities are facilitating the availability of casual labor opportunities. Increased, seasonally normal income from casual labor and milk sales are anticipated to improve conditions in much of the country by December. 

    • The ongoing October to December lean season was preceded by below normal Masika production in July and August. Seasonally increasing demand is resulting in increasing prices despite well supplied markets. October maize, beans, and rice prices doubled over the past two years in many cases, and prices continue to remain well above their five-year averages (Figure 3). 

    • In Kagera Region, the September to December Vuli rains started poorly, especially in the western areas. Bean production has already been affected by the poor start of season. In the bimodal-to–unimodal transition areas and some central areas of the country, food security outcomes will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the end of the lean season in December. These areas will most likely improve in January following the start of the 2012/13 Vuli harvests.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • High staple food prices across the country are limiting food access for market-dependent households.
    • Prices will likely remain high until January 2013 when the Vuli harvests are expected.

    Bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas

    • Below normal total rainfall during March to June 2012 Masika and November 2011 to February 2012 Msimu rains resulted in below average crop production.
    • The situation is anticipated to improve in January when harvests from Vuli harvests become available following forecasted near average September to December Vuli rains.

    Kagera Region

    • Erratic, poor rainfall distribution has affected bean crops in many parts of Kagera region, primarily in western areas (Figure 2).
    • A below average bean harvest will likely reduce incomes and reduce bean supplies to markets. This would likely result in higher prices for beans.

    Banana- growing areas of Kagera Region

    • The prevalence and spread of banana bacterial wilt (BXW) that started in 2006 has continued to reduce the availability of bananas both as a staple food and cash crop, resulting in increased demand for non-local food supplies.
    • Food security is likely to improve following the September to December Vuli rains forecasted to be near average that will increase production of alternative crops to bananas including cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams for harvest in January 2013.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    National: Across the country, all areas are in their lean seasons. As a result, food prices continue to increase as household stocks decrease. Increasing market dependence and increasing demand on markets characterize the lean season. The higher than usual demand follows below normal production during the 2012 Masika season in July and August and the 2012 Msimu harvest from May to July in the bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas and some marginal, central areas. High demand for grain exports from across the neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Kenya, high transportation cost as a result of high fuel prices, and high food and non-food inflation rates have also contributed to maintaining high prices. In October, staple food prices were between 50 and 89 percent above their five-year averages. However, markets across the country remain well supplied with many varieties of food and are able to meet the higher than usual demand this lean season.

    Ongoing rains in the bimodal areas are facilitating seasonally normal agricultural activities like land preparation, planting, and weeding. These activities provide opportunities for casual labor. Income from casual labor improves the purchasing power of poor households who have likely exhausted their own household food stocks. Both pasture availability (Figure 2) and water points for livestock have improved following the start of the rains. As a result, improving milk availability should both improve dietary diversity and income from milk sales for livestock-holding households.

    This improvements in food security would change significantly if the Vuli season were to be significantly poorer than forecast. The Vuli harvests normally contribute around 30 percent of total national food requirements. These harvests also help moderate food prices in the time leading up to the main Msimu harvests in April and May in the unimodal areas. A poorer rainy season would likely lead to higher food prices and a higher food insecure population. (October 2012)

    Bimodal areas and the bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas: The September to December Vuli rainy season is ongoing. There were poor rains at the start of the season some in parts of Kagera Region where the rain started in September but then they stopped completely with dry conditions lasting until mid-October. In some areas, the dry spell may lead to a poor bean crop in December. Households in the bimodal-to-unimodal transition areas and some of the central, marginal areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the end of December. These areas will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in January following the start of the Vuli harvests and associated casual labor opportunities.

    Banana-growing areas of Kagera Region: The prevalence of banana bacterial wilt (BXW) coupled with erratic and poorly spatially and temporally distributed rains at the start of season are reducing the banana crop. Strong winds during the rains have also damaged some banana trees, further reducing the availability of bananas now and in the future. Households in the affected areas will depend on markets longer than usual. High food prices will likely still limit food access between November and January before the Vuli harvests are expected. High food prices are expected to persist longer in this region compared to others, since food supplies will be sourced from outside the regions, delaying the price transmission from the new harvest in January. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly (difference from 2001-2010 mean), November 1-10, 2012

    Figure 2

    Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly (difference from 2001-2010 mean), November 1-10, 2012

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Wholesale white maize prices in Dar Es Salaam, January 2008 to October 2012

    Figure 3

    Wholesale white maize prices in Dar Es Salaam, January 2008 to October 2012

    Source: Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Marketing (MITM)

    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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