See also:
» 02.11.2010 - High alert over Tanzania deadly virus
» 28.10.2009 - Tanzanian farmers receive FAO's boost
» 24.09.2009 - S/Korea in farming deal with Tanzania
» 23.09.2009 - USADF signs new grants in Cape Verde and Tanzania
» 18.09.2009 - Project focus to enhance child nutrition in rural Malawi and Tanzania
» 08.06.2009 - Local farmers sign US grant deals
» 29.08.2008 - Tanzanian leader visits US
» 16.07.2008 - Tanzania sugar prepares for global market

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Agriculture - Nutrition

Tanzanian food production down 10 percent

afrol News, 24 May - National food crop production in Tanzania is likely to decline by 10 percent this year compared to last year, mainly due to low and erratic rainfall. The Ministry of Agriculture however expects that Tanzania will be able to meet almost its entire food requirements, the rest to be covered by imports.

Tanzania's national food requirements for 2003/04 are calculated at 8.4 million metric tons, while preliminary estimates for 2002/03 food crop production are around 7.7 million tons. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security thus calculates that Tanzania is likely to meet around 92 percent of its own food requirements for the June 2003 - May 2004 consumption year.

Compared to last year, food crop production has declined by 10 percent from 8.6 million tons, attributed to low and erratic rainfall in several parts of Tanzania during the growing season. However, last year, crops had been greater than national food demands, and the volume of this season's crops is closer to the Tanzanian average.

Given that rainfall was low and erratic in all three seasons of the 2002/03 crop production year, crops are higher than was to be expected. However, according to the Ministry, there were considerable increases in cultivated area for most crops this year - up 39 percent over last year - which compensated for yield losses.

- Although detailed information is not yet available, higher food prices and a more open market provide possible incentives to account for this increase, the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) assesses.

In 2001, the Tanzanian government had lifted a ban on exporting maize, which coincided with high food demand in neighbouring countries, especially in southern Africa. In previous years the domestic market had also been limited, and prices were suppressed in remote areas with poor transport infrastructure. FEWS holds that a freer market may have caused farmers to increase production, given their improved sales possibilities.

Staple prices however began to rise in some markets in April, contrary to the normal trend. Normally, in April, prices are expected to be stable or falling. This was not seen as a problem for Tanzanian households, though, as most had a good access to staple foods.

Staple food prices were however expected to stabilize over the next few months, when harvests from the 'msimu' and 'masika' seasons are expected to hit the markets. "Prices might start to escalate toward the end of the year, if appropriate counter-measures are not implemented in time," FEWS warned.

While farmers were reported to get good prices for their products, the situation was somewhat more difficult for Tanzania's many herders. Food staple price increases combined with declining livestock prices meant that terms of trade are worsening for pastoralists. This was likely to constrain access to food for poor cattle raising households, who are particularly dependent on market supplies.

Although rainfall is below the long term average in most locations, vegetation is good enough to provide adequate pasture for livestock. Availability of water was also reported to be satisfactory.

In conclusion, the "overall prospects for food security in the next few months are good, but rising staple prices cause some concern," the FEWS report on Tanzania noted.

Food shortages were however likely to "start emerging by the end of 2003, causing further price increases." This situation, however, could be contained if the production gap was "understood and addressed well in advance," the agency concluded.

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