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In northeastern lowlands, half or less of normal maize harvest expected

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • October 2014
In northeastern lowlands, half or less of normal maize harvest expected

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In the northeastern, bimodal lowlands, low maize production has weakened agricultural labor demand. Poor households who supply this labor will have less income for food purchase and will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) starting in December.

    • In the Central Rift Valley in Dodoma and Singida Regions which had very low Msimu production this year, assistance will likely not arrive until December, a month later than originally expected.

    • Most households nationwide will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through March due to adequate household stock from recent harvests in bimodal and unimodal areas, abundant labor opportunities, and low and stable food prices. Milk availability and favorable livestock conditions will ensure food access for pastoralists and agropastoralists.

    zonecurrent anomaliesprojected anomalies
    Central Rift Valley in Singida and Dodoma Regions
    • Food and cash from crop sales lower than normal due to below-average crop production during the May to July Msimu harvest
    • Charcoal making and firewood sales are limited by environmental laws, reducing incomes.
    • Chicken sales are lower than normal due to reduced flock sizes following a Newcastle disease outbreak in September.
    • Low casual labor demand for home repair and construction throughout the dry season in October, November, and December.
    • The government will likely delay their humanitarian interventions until December, a month later than usual.
    Northeastern, bimodal lowlands in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha Regions
    • Unseasonable rainfall occurred in August and early September before coastal Tanga had finished harvesting, damaging 10 to 30 percent of the Masika crops.
    • Maize prices are lower than last year  for farmers selling their crops from Masika season 
    • With reduced agricultural production, especially of maize, during the Vuli, poor households’ will have less income from casual, agricultural labor.



    Seasonal progress: Around Lake Victoria, the Vuli season is progressing with ongoing rainfall and periodic dry spells convenient for weeding crops. Land preparation and planting are ongoing in the bimodal, northern highlands. This is providing casual labor opportunities for poor households requiring income to purchase food. In the unimodal areas, land preparation for the November to June Msimu season is underway.

    Staple food prices are low. Maize and rice prices have remained low since the start of the main harvest in June in both unimodal and bimodal areas. The National Food Reserve Agency’s (NFRA) will continue to purchase maize until mid-November, contributing to increasing farm-gate prices in the areas that had low prices before purchases started. Currently, maize and rice prices are and will likely remain unseasonably low and stable until December/January when traders’ and households’ stocks deplete. Normally prices would have started increasing by September. Food prices are expected to reach their lean season peak between January and March, as usual.

    Bean production was lower than normal this year, keeping prices high even while recent harvests have been adequate. Bean prices have stabilized above their five-year averages, restricting poor and middle-income households’ access to this important protein source.

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity expected through the end of March in most areas. Most households have adequate food stocks and will likely continue to access staples through the markets at prices that are stable and low. These households are earning sufficient income through casual labor such as agricultural labor for the Vuli season or land preparation for the Msimu season. The number of acutely food insecure people is not expected to increase between January and March during the unimodal lean season.

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

    In Tanga, unseasonable rainfall in August and September damaged or destroyed between 10 and 30 percent of maize both in the field or being dried in storage.

    Maize production will be at least 50 percent lower than normal. Land preparation is ongoing. The Tanzania Meteorological Agency forecasts that September to December rainfall will likely be normal to above normal but with erratic spatial and temporal distribution. However, several consecutive low Vuli harvests have encouraged many farmers to plant maize only in the Masika season, as it is more reliable, rather than splitting their production between Vuli and Masika. Overall, Vuli maize production will be 50 to 65 percent lower than normal, but the annual total will likely be similar to previous years.

    Poor households will move from None (IPC Phase 1) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by December. Farmers are switching from growing maize during the Vuli to lower-value crops like sweet potatoes and cassava that survive with less moisture along with beans and peas that mature more quickly. The tubers are less labor intensive than maize, and they are being grown primarily for household consumption. Farmers will hire less casual, agricultural labor from poor households. Households who rely on income from this agricultural labor to purchase food will likely have more limited food access.

    This change in production pattern and above-average March to June rainfall led to the July to August Masika harvest being larger than in 2013. However, as a result, September’s prices were lower than normal at TZS 280 per kilogram (kg) compared with TZS 472 per kg in 2013, which had a similar harvest. If farmers are trying to produce the same amount in a typical year in one season rather than two, then they will likely end up selling immediately after the harvest at low prices to avoid post-harvest losses. Inadequate storage is a problem for some poor households that have limited space and cannot afford storage chemicals to prevent pest infestations.

    The Central Rift Valley in Dodoma and Singida Regions

    Households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October through at least March due to stable food prices and ample casual labor opportunities in neighboring areas of Kongwa, Handeni, and Kilindi. The Central Rift Valley had below-normal production from November to April, and since then has had limited availability of income-earning activities. A normal number of agricultural labor opportunities for the Msimu season will start becoming available in late December. Some migratory work in bimodal areas will become available with Masika land preparation starting in unimodal areas in January and February. Typically, government interventions would have started in the area by November, but this year they are expected not to start until December. The delay in intervention is attributed to the late release of the crop production data needed for the household food assessment, which typically drives the government’s program. Full recovery is expected for this area when Msimu harvest starts in May 2015. Extended reporting on this area can be found here.   


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    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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