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Country Briefs

  United Republic of Tanzania

Reference Date: 04-April-2017


  1. Uncertain prospects for 2017 “msimu” crops in central uni-modal rainfall areas due to early season dryness

  2. Good start of 2017 “masika” season in eastern bi-modal rainfall areas

  3. Above-average 2016 cereal production, despite failure of 2016/17 “vuli” season

  4. Maize prices surging to near-record to record levels

  5. Food insecurity persists in northeastern parts where below‑average 2016 “masika” and “vuli” crops were harvested, as well as among refugees hosted in camps

  6. Food security situation expected to deteriorate in northeast following below-average “vuli” harvest

  7. As of late March 2017, refugees and asylum seekers (mainly from Burundi) were estimated at 309 000

Uncertain prospects for 2017 “msimu” crops in central regions

In central and southern uni-modal rainfall areas, planting of 2017 “msimu” season crops, to be harvested from May, normally takes place in November and December. However, dry weather conditions in December delayed planting operations by about one month. Rainfall in January was poor over most cropping areas, with the most severe rainfall deficits recorded in central Tabora, Singida and Dodoma regions, where rainfall was about 40 percent below average. Above-average rains in February and in the first two dekads of March reduced the soil moisture deficit and benefited vegetation conditions in southern key-growing areas, including Mbeya and Iringa regions. By contrast, despite the recent improved rains, vegetation conditions are still poor in most central regions (see Vegetation Condition Index Map). Rainfall amounts and distribution in the coming weeks will be crucial for crop performance and a close monitoring is warranted.

In northern and eastern bi-modal rainfall areas, land preparation and planting operations of “masika” crops, for harvest from June, benefited from an early onset of seasonal rains during the third dekad of February.

According to the latest Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) weather forecast, the remainder of the ongoing rainy season (March-May) is likely to be characterized by below average rains in northern and eastern bi-modal rainfall areas, while precipitation in central and southern uni-modal rainfall areas are forecast at average to above-average levels.

Despite failure of 2016/17 “vuli” season, 2016 cereal production set at above average levels

In northern and eastern bi-modal rainfall areas, harvesting of “vuli” secondary season crops, which contribute to approximately 30 percent of the total annual cereal production, was concluded in February. Crop establishment and development were affected by delayed, poor and erratic rainfall and the output is estimated at well below-average levels. Crop production is reported to be up to 75 percent below-average in Arusha, Tanga, Manyara, Kilimanjaro and Pwani regions where cumulative rainfall from October to December was up to 70 percent below-average.

Following the good performance of 2016 major “msimu” harvest gathered in May/June in southern and central key-growing uni-modal rainfall areas, aggregate cereal production in 2016 is put at about 10 million tonnes, about 9 percent above the average of the previous five years. Cereal import requirements in the 2016/17 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at about 1 million tonnes (mainly wheat and wheat flour plus some 190 000 tonnes of rice), 6 and 10 percent up from last year and the average of the previous five years, respectively.

Maize prices surging to near-record to record levels

Prices of maize have sharply increased in recent months, doubling between September and March in Iringa and Arusha and surging by 60 percent in Dar Es Salaam, the largest urban centre. March prices were up to 55 percent higher than one year earlier and at near-record to record levels in all monitored markets, underpinned by the low “vuli” crop production and by uncertain prospects for the upcoming 2017 main “msimu” harvest.

Food security situation expected to deteriorate in northeast

Following two consecutive well below-average harvests (“masika” and “vuli”), poor households in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Pwani and Tanga regions are expected to remain in IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” through May, until the green 2017 “masika” harvest will be available for consumption. With improved food availability in June/July, following the “msimu” and “masika” harvests, IPC Phase 1: “Minimal” food insecurity is expected to prevail across the country.

As of late March 2017, about 309 000 refugees and asylum seekers are residing in Kigoma and Kagera regions as a result of violence and political instability in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most refugees face difficult food security conditions, especially the new arrivals that have not been able to plant their own crops and rely entirely on humanitarian assistance.