FEWS Bulletin - Jan. 1999 (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania)
Failure of Short-Rains Crops in Tanzania
Rainfall in Tanzania’s bimodal regions has been significantly below normal throughout the October to mid-January period. As a result, the vuli (short-rains) harvest in February/March is expected to be 80 to 90 percent below average in all bimodal regions (figure 1) except Kagera. Food crops and cash crops have been affected, as have pasture and water conditions in the important pastoral Regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro. Even short-cycle crops such as pumpkins and vegetables have been hard hit.
Since households in these regions derive approximately one-third of their annual crop income from vuli season production, the failure of this season’s crops will cause hardship for many households. However, since the preceding 1998 masika (long-rains) harvest of rice and various non-cereal food crops was good in many of these areas, most households should be able to cope; only the poorest households will be food insecure between March and the June to September masika harvest. But if the upcoming masika harvest is poor, most households could face food insecurity.
The sparse rains in December and early January bode poorly for crop production in the unimodal regions, where the growing season started in November and December. In the central zone, the area planted to date is nearly 50 percent below average, and in certain regions (Dodoma, Shinyanga, Singida, and Tabora), field crops are wilting. Households in Dodoma and Singida Regions are still receiving relief following two consecutive years of below average harvests. Another poor harvest would require a large-scale, rapidly implemented relief effort in the central zone. With area planted already 20 percent below average in the major grain-producing regions of the southern highlands, a poor harvest would undermine national food security. Overall, a very poor harvest could create localized food insecurity in areas beyond the central zone.