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Country Briefs

  United Republic of Tanzania

Reference Date: 09-February-2018


  1. Below-average 2017/18 “vuli” harvest expected in bi-modal rainfall areas

  2. Average 2017 cereal production despite localized production shortfalls in central and northeastern areas due to unfavourable rains

  3. Favourable outlook for 2018 “msimu” crops

  4. Maize prices substantially declined from record highs in April 2017 and currently are at low levels

  5. Food insecurity likely to persist in northeastern areas as a result of reduced 2017/18 “vuli” harvest

  6. As of late October 2017, about 317 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Burundi, face difficult food security conditions

Below-average average 2017/18 “vuli” harvest expected in bi-modal rainfall areas

In northern, northeastern and coastal bi-modal rainfall areas, harvesting of “vuli” secondary season crops, which contribute to 15‑20 percent of the total annual cereal production, is currently underway. The October-to-December “vuli” rains where characterized by above-average amounts and a favourable distribution over northern regions of Kagera, Mara, Mwanza and Shinyanga as well as Pwani region on the coast. By contrast, in northeastern regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga, cumulative seasonal rainfall was up to 70 percent below average, with a negative impact on crop development and vegetation conditions (see Vegetation Condition Index map). As a result, a reduced maize production is expected, thus leading to a fourth consecutive season with below-average cereal output.

In the same areas, the “masika” harvest, which concluded in August 2017, also had a mixed performance, with cereal production shortfalls reported in northern Mwanza and Shinyanga regions and in northeastern Arusha Region, where March-to-May seasonal rains were 20‑35 percent below average. In central and southern uni-modal rainfall areas, the major “msimu” harvest was completed in July 2017 with about a one month-delay due to the late onset of seasonal rainfall. Cereal “msimu” production was above average in most key-growing areas of the southern highlands, while a reduced output was gathered in central Tabora, Singida and Dodoma regions due to below average rains. Fall Armyworm infestations, identified in several regions both in uni-modal and in bi-modal rainfall areas, have adversely affected yields in localized areas.

Aggregate cereal production for 2017 (including a below-average output of the ongoing 2017/18 “vuli” harvest), is estimated at an average 9.7 million tonnes.

Favourable outlook for 2018 “msimu” crops

In central and southern uni-modal rainfall areas, planting of the 2018 long-rains “msimu” season crops, to be harvested in May/June, was completed in December 2017. Seasonal rains had an early onset at the beginning of November over most cropping areas. A dry spell in the second dekad of November over central Singida and Dodoma regions and southern Iringa and Ruvuma regions delayed planting operations and required some replanting. Subsequently, precipitations were average in December and well above average in January over most cropping areas, with a favourable impact on crop establishment and development. According to FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index (ASI), vegetation conditions are generally above average, especially in key-growing areas of the southern highlands (see ASI map). By contrast, below-average biomass conditions are reported in Dodoma Region and in southern uni-modal/bi-modal transition areas of Manyara Region. According to official weather forecasts from the United Republic of Tanzania Meteorological Agency, “msimu” rains are likely to continue at average to above-average levels until the end of the season in May 2018, with a positive impact on crop yields.

Maize prices declining and at low levels

Prices of maize more than doubled in all monitored markets between August 2016 and April 2017, when they reached new record highs, underpinned by tight supplies and concerns over the performance of 2017 crops, due to early season dryness. Subsequently, they declined by 50‑60 percent between April and November 2017, as improved rains lifted crop prospects and, successively, newly harvested “msimu” and “masika” crops increased supplies. A maize export ban introduced by the Government in June further supported price declines. Prices of maize then remained mostly stable in December 2017 and January 2018, when they were 35‑50 percent below their year-earlier levels.

Pockets of food insecurity persist in northern areas

The country is generally food secure. Pockets of moderate food insecurity persist in some northeastern bi-modal rainfall areas where, following three consecutive well below-average harvests (2016 “masika” and “vuli”, 2017 “masika”), poor households in Arusha, Kagera, Kilimanjaro, Mara, Mwanza, Pwani and Tanga regions were estimated to be in IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” in October 2017. In bi-modal areas, the food security situation is improving as food crops from the 2017 “vuli” harvest (currently underway) are becoming available for consumption. Concerns remain for the poor households in northeastern Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga regions as the cereal output has been affected by unfavourable rains and they are likely to remain in IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” until the “masika” harvest in July 2018.

As of late October 2017, about 317 000 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 consequently rely entirely on humanitarian assistance.

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