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High maize prices in deficit areas

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • October 2013
High maize prices in deficit areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook Through March 2014
  • Key Messages
    • There is sufficient availability of a variety of staple foods on markets and at the household level, and food insecurity in most areas is expected to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between now and March 2014.  

    • However, in the banana-growing areas of Kagera, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels are expected through December due to the impacts of crop diseases on banana and cassava production.  In central marginal areas of Dodoma, Stressed food insecurity is expected through March due to poor production in these areas last season, high prices, and an outbreak of Newcastle disease.

    • Maize prices spiked in August following Government purchases of maize at artificially high prices. However, with the halt in September to the government purchases, maize prices have since declined. Rice prices have continued to decrease due to strict import bans on rice imports from Tanzania by Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda. 




    Kagera Banana  and Cassava Growing areas

    • The prevalence and spread of banana bacterial wilt (BXW) and cassava diseases (Cassava Mosaic Virus Disease and Cassava Brown streak Disease) have continued to reduce the availability of bananas and cassava, as both staple foods and cash crops; this has resulted in increasing demand for non-local food supplies with high prices.
    • The size of the food insecure population will continue to increase as food stocks decline and prices rise with the onset of the lean season in October. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely between now and November, though food security will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels in December with green harvests.

    Central Marginal Rainfall area

    • Below-normal food production during the 2012/13 season due to poor rainfall has resulted in above-average food prices during the harvesting period.


    • Income from chicken sales has been reduced due to an outbreak of Newcastle disease in September.
    • Food prices are likely to continue rising due to decreasing supplies on markets, increasing demand for maize (from other countries and from deficit areas), and associated high transport costs to deficit areas. Casual labor opportunities will slowly increase for land preparation for the December-April Msimu season.

    Projected Outlook Through March 2014

    National: Food security conditions at the national level have remained stable following the release of commercial food stocks on markets by traders. There is sufficient availability of a variety of staple foods on markets and at the household level, with the exception of central marginal areas where food prices are high due to poor production last season. Weeding of cassava, maize, sorghum and beans, and planting of sweet potatoes is ongoing. Availability of casual labor is providing cash to casual labor dependent households, and cushioning the current maize price increases. Land preparation and dry planting is ongoing in central areas of Dodoma and Singida and in the rest of the unimodal areas. Pasture and water points are being recharged by the ongoing rains in bimodal areas, supporting normal livestock migrations.

    Food prices have shown a mixed trend. Maize prices that rose in August as a result of government purchases at artificially high prices declined since September, but have now resumed a typical increasing trend for this time of year. At Songea market, where major government purchases were made, prices increased from 2 to 59 percent during the purchase period in August. Since the government purchases stopped, the price decreased in September by 25 percent. In food deficit areas, and in areas where cross-border trade remains active, prices are higher than in other markets. As typically occurs during the lean season, prices are expected to rise in the bimodal areas.

    Rice prices have continued decreasing across the country. At Mbeya market (major rice producing area), the  price of rice in September reached TZS 99,200 per 100Kg compared to TZS 182,917 in September 2012. This is attributed to improved rice availability due to good production last season and reduced rice exports following the ban on imports from Tanzania imposed by neighboring Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. Tanzania recently imported rice duty-free from international markets, while other EAC countries charge duties on imports (a potentially important source of government revenues). Urban households will likely substitute comparatively cheaper rice for maize. However, farming households, especially rice producers who normally sell rice to purchase maize, will face poor terms of trade that will likely compromise their purchasing power. In addition, low farm gate prices will likely reduce production incentives for the next production cycle.

    Food insecurity in most areas is expected to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between now and March, with the exception of the banana-growing areas of Kagera, and central marginal areas of Dodoma (see detail below). This outlook would change significantly if excessive grain outflows took place as a result of higher demand due to conflict, displacement, and lower production in the neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC, Kenya and the SADC countries.

    Banana-growing areas of Kagera region: Bananas and cassava crops are the major staples of households of all income levels. Production of food in this area has been significantly reduced following the infestation of banana bacterial wilt (BXW), cassava mosaic virus disease, and cassava brown streak disease. As a result, market dependence has increased resulting in high demand for food outside the livelihood zone. Availability of casual labor opportunities for land preparation in the coming months will stabilize cash income to purchase household food and non-food items.  However, Stressed food insecurity is expected through November following increasing prices and decreasing alternative food crops following the onset of the lean season. Food security is likely to improve beginning in December with green harvests and Vuli harvests.

    Central marginal areas of Dodoma Region: Poor and erratic rains during the 2012/13 production season reduced production of both food and cash crops. As a result, prices have been abnormally high during the harvesting period. Most households normally produce enough food to meet consumption needs, but this season most households have at least partial market dependence.  

    Most households access income from chicken sales and agricultural labor. However, a September outbreak of Newcastle disease in many parts of the country reduced the number of chickens and thus cash income. Though agricultural labor demand will increase following the start of land preparation, high and increasing prices will impact household ability to purchase food on markets. Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) is likely during October/March for affected households in Dodoma region.  These populations are estimated to be less than 20 percent of the overall population. 


    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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