Tanzania Food Security Improving, But Lean Season Still Poses Threat in Some Areas
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A new report released by FEWS Net examines current food security conditions in Tanzania, finding that overall national food security prospects are favorable but local-level conditions remain mixed.

The annual Masika rains (from March to May) were 120 to 200 percent above average in many parts of the country as a result of the effects of El Niño. This has increased crop production in some areas and contributed to national grain stocks. The Ministry of Agriculture is reporting an anticipated overall national maize surplus of 650,000 MT for the 2016 marketing year, plus a 400,000 MT strategic grain reserve. The grain reserve is likely to increase further, says the report, because the government has set producer purchase price at TSh 500 per kilogram, compared to the farm-gate price of TSh. 300-350 per kilogram in surplus-producing areas. Tanzania also has an estimated 1 million MT surplus of rice; both the maize and the rice surpluses are likely to be exported.

Despite this overall favorable production outlook, however other areas of the country, particularly in the northeastern cropping areas, still experienced rainfall deficits of more than 50 percent of average precipitation. This has led to expected below average green and dry crop harvests in the coming months in these regions. Poor households in these areas are expected to experience an earlier-than-normal lean season, with harvest stocks being depleted by August. National stocks will somewhat moderate the effects of this shortfall, but poor households dependent on agricultural labor for their income will see compromised food access.  

El Niño-related flooding has also affected an estimated 25,000 households in northern, central, and southern Tanzania. Many households lost crops, agricultural inputs, tools, livestock, pasture lands, and income sources, and are likely to experience reduced food consumption through the end of 2016.

Across the country, food security for the majority of poor households has improved to Minimal, according to FEWS Net. However, food insecurity will likely worsen during the coming lean season (October through January), with poor households in the northeastern region of the country expected to move into Stressed levels of food insecurity.

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:Flickr: Caroline Irby/Oxfam