FEWS Tanzania Food Security Report 18 Jun 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


The food security situation was satisfactory in most parts of the country during May.

Isolated reports suggested possible early food shortages in areas of the country where the season was particularly bad.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security banned the movement of cassava plants into and out of 10 districts affected by Cassava Mosaic Disease and ordered the destruction of affected crops.

Maize and bean prices continued to rise in most rural and urban markets, counter to the expected seasonal trends.

The food security outlook in the coming months is not positive in a number of areas. The Ministry of Agriculture predicts that by July households in over 20 districts may be experiencing food shortages.

With the onset of the dry season, pasture and water sources are expected to diminish in the coming months, negatively affecting livestock production.

1. Food Security Overview

The food security situation in most parts of the country was satisfactory during May, aided by the ongoing harvest in key unimodal rainfall areas, which improved market supply and food availability at household level. However, in May the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) identified a number of districts where food shortages were likely to emerge, either before or during the June 2003-May 2004 consumption year. These include Mafia (Coast Region), where shortages were likely to begin as early as May 2003; and Maswa (Shinyanga Region), Masasi (Mtwara Region), Arumeru (Arusha Region), Iramba (Singida Region) and Mvomero (Morogoro Region), all of which are likely to start facing shortages in June 2003. The MAFS predictions are based solely on the potential balance between preliminary food production estimates (which was below average in many parts of Tanzania for the 2002/03 season) and food requirements per district, without considering trade and other common food access strategies. These predictions, therefore, should be subject to a certain amount of circumspection. The Food Security Information Team (FSIT)1 will assess the food situation in more detail in June and July in the districts identified by MAFS. Nevertheless, according to recent news media reports, there are pockets of the country where food shortages already exist. In one case, for instance, households in Kisarawe district (Coast Region) reportedly began to consume wild root crops (which are only consumed in bad years) due to food shortages.

2. Rainfall, crop production and vegetation

2.1 Rainfall

Satellite images show that rainfall declined between April and the first dekad of June over most of the country; only the Lake Victoria Basin and isolated areas in the northern coastal belt north of Dar es Salaam (Coast and Tanga Region) received any rain in June. Compared to the long term average, rainfall was below to much below normal throughout the country in April but improved slightly in May, when it was above normal in the Lake Victoria Basin and parts of Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Dodoma, Singida and Tabora Regions. For June, most parts of the country were normal except in the north east coast regions, where it was drier than normal (Figure 1).

2.2 Rainfall and production effects

This rainfall pattern had various effects on agricultural activities in different locations, depending on the stage of crop development. In most of the unimodal rainfall areas, where maize and beans are either ripening or being harvested, the dry conditions were welcome. In the bimodal rainfall areas, such as the Lake Victoria Basin, the northern highlands (Arusha and Manyara Regions) and northern coast regions (Coast and Tanga Regions) the rainfall helped new crops grow and even mature.

2.3 Vegetation

Vegetation during the first dekad of June was very light to light in the central and western parts of Tanzania and medium to heavy in other locations. Compared to normal (long term averages) vegetation was worse to much worse in the south coastal, central and western regions and better than average in the pastoral areas in northern Tanzania (Figure 2).

Pasture was sufficient to meet livestock feed requirements, and as a result, animal health and production have been normal. There is some concern, however, that pasture and browse will diminish in the coming months as the dry season progresses. Normally, livestock keepers migrate in response to reduced water and pasture and are likely to do the same again this year.

Note: 1 FSIT is a multi-agency forum established to monitor the food situation in the country and recommend to the government and other stakeholders appropriate measures to ensure food security in the country.

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