- Average harvests have been registered in most Tanzanian districts, coming after last year's substantial food surplus. Most of Tanzania thus is avoiding the regional food crisis that has hit the Horn and East Africa. Increased demands for Tanzanian grains in neighbouring Kenya however contribute to local price hikes.
Average maize wholesale prices in most urban markets reached the low 2003 prices in May and June this year as the most prominent sources started delivering to Dar-es-Salaam. As rural producers had made substantial surpluses during the anterior agricultural season, this year's average harvest reached urban markets in sufficient quantities to cause prices the more than halve earlier this year.
All is however not well in Tanzania's agricultural areas. Especially in the Northern Highlands, vegetation cover is much less dense than normally after very poor rains. Most of the area bordering Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda has indeed been affected by the drought that currently causes major problems from Eritrea and Somalia in the north to northern Tanzania in the south. In Tanzania, the local drought mainly affects livestock.
- The below average vegetation conditions in the pastoral areas have forced some pastoralists to migrate in search for pasture and water for livestock, according to a Tanzania report issued today by the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS). "However, livestock are still in good condition and fetching good prices. Livestock health is expected to remain satisfactory," the FEWS report says.
Tanzanians however also note another effect of the regional drought. Maize and other crops produced in Tanzania suddenly have found a market in Kenya as grain prices are hiking in the drought affected northern neighbour. Thus, substantial parts of Tanzania's grain harvest are now being exported to Kenya, with lower maize access in Tanzanian urban markets already causing higher prices.
This time of year normally sees lowering grain prices at Tanzanian markets due to good access from local harvest. Most Tanzanian markets however saw growing prices already in July - with prices hiking even more in August - as a response to the crisis in Kenya. Especially in the northern part of the country, maize prices are above average.
According to the FEWS assessment of food security in the country, the overall situation is "satisfactory". There would however be "pockets of food insecurity" in Tanzania due to poor crops or due to low salaries for the many farm workers in the cotton sector, who may find it difficult to afford growing maize prices.
Tanzanian cash crops farmers in Mwanza and Shinyanga - just south of Lake Victoria - have faced a particularly difficult year. In June it was expected that, this year, cotton farmers would earn Tanzanian Shilling 300 (US$ 0.28) per kg, but, as time went on, the world market cotton prices fell. Cotton buyers are reportedly paying as low as Shilling 200 (US$ 0.18) per kg. The low prices are substantially reducing farmers' incomes and purchasing power.
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