All markets across the country are reported to have abundant food supplies. This is attributable to the ongoing food export ban implemented by the government. However, food access in 56 districts in central, north, and northeastern Tanzania have remained difficult following the poor performance of the vuli and masika rains in the bimodal areas and below normal msimu rains in the unimodal areas. Food prices across the country have continued to remain above the five-year average in both surplus and deficit areas. Persistent high food prices are mainly due to the 40 percent decrease in normal production for maize, rice, sorghum, millet, sweet potatoes, cassava, and bean crops in central (Dodoma, Singida, parts of Tabora), northern (Lake Victoria areas of Shinyanga, Mara and Mwanza), and northeastern areas (Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Manyara).
The gap between current and the five-year average food prices has narrowed. However, this does not bring any relief to market dependant households because prices are still high. Maize prices, the major staple across the country, was between 51-98 percent above the last five-year average in deficit areas of central, north, and northeastern Tanzania and between 17-36 percent in surplus areas of southern highlands and southern coast has dropped to between 36 -84 and between 18- 30 percent respectively. This implies that prices at this time of the year are always high due to the onset of the lean period.
By November, 72,000MT of maize has been released by National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) for both commercial and free food distribution. The Government is providing targeted food assistance to food insecure households and commercial food stocks in the market of the 56 districts in order to stabilize market maize prices. This season NFRA has so far purchased 117,000MT from the surplus areas of Mbeya, Iringa, Rukwa and Ruvuma. In June 2011 the Government food stock had dropped to 154,000 MT from the maximum stock of 210,000 MT that was stocked last year. Agency stocks in the deficit areas of Shinyanga and Arusha are lowest and therefore distribution in these areas will most likely be delayed while transporting food from southern parts of the country.
Increasing fuel prices is risings the cost of transporting food from surplus areas to deficit areas as the lean season progresses. This will likely keep food prices high until the next vuli season harvest in January in the bimodal areas and April in the unimodal areas. Pastoral areas are expecting some relief following the current ongoing rainfalls in the bimodal areas because of increased milk availability.