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Erratic Start of Maize Season Rains Affects Crop Establishment

14 November 2013

TANZANIA - In northern bi-modal rainfall areas, planting of the 2013 “vuli” crops (to be harvested at the beginning of next year) is well underway. Seasonal rains started by mid-September around Lake Victoria and have so far been erratic, with some crops requiring re-planting.

Official meteorological forecasts point to average to below average rainfall amounts until December. In central and southern uni-modal areas, land preparation for the December-April “msimu” cropping season is underway. Some dry planting has already begun in central areas of Dodoma and Singida.

Aggregate cereal production in 2013 (including an average forecast of the 2013 “vuli” production) is tentatively set at 7.5 million tonnes, about 13 per cent above the previous five years’ average. The cereal import requirement in the 2013/14 (July/June) marketing year is forecast at about 800,000 tonnes (including 600,000 tonnes of wheat and 200,000 tonnes of rice) compared to imports of 930, 000 tonnes in 2012/13.

Maize prices hit record high levels in Dar es Salaam

Between June and October 2013, wholesale maize prices increased by 74 per cent in Dar Es Salaam, the main urban center, and by 15 per cent in Mbeya, located in a major producing area. In October, maize was traded at record level of USD 490 per tonne in Dar es Salaam market, about 30 per cent more than one year earlier, partly due to strong local demand. By contrast, wholesale prices of rice were mostly stable at low levels in recent months, due to improved availabilities from the good 2013 harvest and reduced exports following an import ban introduced by neighbouring countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

The start of the lean season is expected to sustain current high levels of food prices

Overall, the country’s food security situation is favourable. The country is entering into the lean season, to last until February 2014, and cereal prices are likely to remain at high levels in coming months, further eroding the purchasing power of most poor households. In particular, food security conditions are expected to be harsh in some areas of north-western Kagera region around Lake Victoria, where production of banana and cassava crops was severely affected by outbreaks of pests and diseases (mainly mosaic virus and brown streak on cassava and bacterial wilt on bananas).

Here, local households are shifting their consumption towards cereals, increasing their market dependence with further push-up effect on prices. In central marginal areas of Dodoma region, food stocks are expected to be depleted earlier than usual as the 2012/13 production was below average following poor and erratic rainfall.

TheCropSite News Desk

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