Tanzania Food Security Update, June 2005


The current food security is stable and expected to remain normal in most parts of the country during the 2005/06 consumption year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security's (MAFS) preliminary food crop production forecast for the 2004/05 production season, released last month, overall food production is estimated at 9.79 million MT, while food requirements for the 2005/06 consumption year are estimated to be 9.55 million MT. Domestic production alone exceeds requirements by nearly 3 percent. Moreover, by mid June, the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) held a stock of 113,148 MT of maize, having purchased 97,842 MT during the 2004/05 marketing year alone, which is a record level since the SGR was established. However, trader information and market analysis reveal a less optimistic situation.

Although the general national current and outlook situations are good, inadequate and erratic rainfall impaired food production in several locations. The dry spell between January and March this year affected crops, particularly maize, in several regions: Shinyanga, Mwanza, Dodoma, Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Singida, Mara, Tabora and Lindi. In these regions, and in the districts of Lushoto (Tanga Region), Iringa Rural and Kilolo (Iringa Region) and Masasi (Mtwara Region), 2004/05 food production is estimated to fall below 2005/06 requirements. The Food Security Information Team (FSIT) is planning to carry out a Rapid Vulnerability Assessment (RVA) in 42 districts in July and August to determine if interventions will be required. However, given the current SGR stock, the government should be able to offset potential deficits, if its response is timely.

Livestock conditions remain satisfactory, due to good pasture and water availability in the agro-pastoral and pastoral northern and central areas. However, as vegetation is drier than normal in some parts, grazing and pastoral livelihoods may deteriorate before the rains start in October. Staple food prices on several markets were higher than last year's prices, and opportunities to generate income have been limited.



- Major staple prices are rising early across the country.

- Pasture is diminishing in the pastoral northern highlands.


Normal dry conditions persisted throughout the country this month, favoring crop maturity and harvesting, particularly in the unimodal areas found in western, central and southern Tanzania. Ongoing harvests of the major staples, including maize, sorghum, potatoes and millet in the unimodal rainfall areas (central, southern and western regions) and the availability of albeit dwindling stocks have sustained a satisfactory food security situation across the country, except in parts of the northern highlands regions (Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara) and north coast (Coast and Tanga regions). In these regions, food insecurity is attributed to: the limited stocks of household food production, due to the failed vuli rains, which prevented vuli crops from reaching maturity; the failure of masika season crops to mature; and the lack of cash to buy adequate food. The FSIT had recommended that the government supply the needy households with subsidized maize during April and May this year, but this food was not released, forcing the poor households to stretch their means of survival, including early consuming of green crops where masika rainfall was good.

Figure 1: Food requirements vs. domestic production in previous years

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security

Last month MAFS released its preliminary food crop production forecast for 2004/05, together with food requirement estimates for the 2005/06 consumption year. Overall food production in 2004/05 was nearly 9.79 million MT, composed of 5.4 million MT of cereals and 3.1 Million MT of non-cereals. MAFS also estimates food requirements in the 2005/06 consumption year to be about 9.55 million MT of grain equivalent. This leaves a surplus of about 242,410 MT, higher than previously anticipated. Although the domestic self-sufficiency ratio is lower than last year, the 2004/05 year production estimate is the highest since 1999/2000, and about 9 percent increase compared to last year's production (Figure 1).

Figure 2: Area cultivated under major staples

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security

MAFS attributes the improved food crop production to the expansion of land cultivated under major staple crops (Figure 2), irrigation development and yield increases in locations that experienced favorable weather and increased fertilizer application.

According to MAFS, overall land cultivated under the major staples increased by 2.6 percent, from 7.75 million Ha cultivated in the 2003/04 season to 7.95 million MT cultivated in the 2004/05 season. Most of the increase occurred in the regions of Arusha, Kagera, Kigoma, Lindi, Ruvuma, Rukwa and Tabora, which, except for Arusha and Tabora, received relatively good rainfall. In 2003/04, irrigation covered 227,486 Ha, on which nearly 910,000 MT of paddy were produced; the area and production increased to approximately 250,000 Ha and 999,970 MT respectively in 2004/05. Fertilizer application increased from 125,650 MT in 2003/04 to 195,095 MT in 2004/05. The government attributed higher fertilizer application this year to its subsidy program implemented since the 2002/03 production season. Most of the fertilizer is used in the southern highlands, the grain basket of Tanzania, which received relatively good rainfall this season. Reportedly, outcomes from land expansion and yield improvements overcompensated for maize and paddy losses caused by poor rainfall performance in the regions of Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Tabora, Dodoma, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Tabora and parts of Tanga, Mara, Kigoma, Rukwa, Mbeya, Ruvuma, Singida, Iringa and Morogoro regions.

Although MAFS has predicted an overall favorable food security situation during the 2005/06 consumption year, there were concerns of maize crop losses caused by a longer than normal dry spell during January through March. In his budget speech delivered to the ongoing parliamentary sitting this month, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security acknowledged potential food shortages during the 2005/06 consumption year in the regions of Shinyanga, Mwanza, Dodoma, Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Singida, Mara, Tabora and Lindi and the districts include Lushoto (Tanga Region), Iringa Rural and Kilolo (Iringa Region) and Masasi (Mtwara Region). He attributed poor 2004/05 crop performance in these locations to drought, delayed start of season, poor spatial rainfall distribution or early cessation, which caused the up to 70 percent losses of maize in some locations.

Contrary to the MAFS forecast, traders contacted by FEWS NET predict a gloomy food security situation, based on their field observations and the below average grain deliveries to markets and the associated price increases. Market analysis also suggests a less favorable food security situation now and in the near future, concurring with the traders' views. A better picture will be obtained after the Food Security Information Team (FSIT) completes a Rapid Vulnerability Assessment (RVA), which plans to carry out in about 42 districts in July and August this year. Nevertheless, in view of the current SGR stock, government should be able to offset food deficits if its response is timely.


As expected, cereal prices in June were highest in the northern highlands and lowest in the southern highlands; a 100 kg maize bag was selling for TShs 24,625 in Moshi (Kilimanjaro Region) and TShs 10,325 in Songea (Ruvuma Region). However, compared to May on all markets this month, prices increased by up to 18 percent (Mbeya), except on the Songea and Tanga markets, where they remained relatively stable. On all markets, maize prices are above the five-year average and last year's prices at this time (Figure 3). Furthermore, while at this time last year prices were declining on most markets, they are currently climbing. Traders attribute the unusual performance of grain prices at this harvesting time to low deliveries to markets for different reasons. In the southern highlands, it is due to dwindling farm level stocks and maize demand pressure from Malawi and Zambia. Maize price increases in the northern highlands and north coast are attributed to below normal local production caused by poor vuli and masika rainfall this year, dependence on supplies from as far as the southern highlands as well as informal exports to neighboring Kenya. In other locations, price increases are caused by low production, due to the January to March longer than normal dry spell in parts of the Dodoma, Morogoro, Shinyanga, Tabora, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Mbeya and Tanga regions. Some informants consider this year's maize production figures estimated by MAFS to be high.

Figure 3: Maize average wholesale prices on selected markets

Source: Ministry of Cooperatives and Marketing

The maize price increases, particularly in the northern highlands and Tanga Region, are harmful because they limit poor households' food access. In these areas, the majority of farmers were forced to turn to markets from as early as February, when they exhausted their own stocks whilst experiencing declining ability to generate income.