Windhoek - Tanzania is among the SADC member states that were negatively affected by low rainfall, and the fall army worm in their agriculture season 2018/2019.
Although the country seems to be performing well in terms of livestock production, its vulnerability area has widened compared to the previous year.
According to the Tanzania Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Committee report, Tanzania’s vulnerability area has widened by 20% between 2018 and 2019.
“The vulnerability area covered 46 districts which is equivalent to 25% by June 2019, compared to the 5% recorded in 2018 the same period,” reads part of the report which was made public during the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment, Analysis and Dissemination Forum in Windhoek last week.
The widened vulnerability areas have been attributed to poor crop harvest caused due to dry spell conditions, delayed on set of seasonal rains and pests such as the fall army worm and red locusts.
During the same season, the report shows that at least 13 regions out of a total of 31 regions in Tanzania face chronic food insecurity.
At least 2. 9 million people, which is approximately 17 % of the country’s population, are in chronic food insecurity across 13 regions. Out of the 2.9 million, about 740 000 (4%) are experiencing severe chronic food insecurity, leaving the remaining 2.2 million in moderate chronic food insecurity.
This means, although the vulnerability area has widened, more than 15 million people in Tanzania are able to access a diet of acceptable quantity and quality for an active and healthy life.
The chronic food insecurity affecting Tanzania is attributed to high dependency on single source livelihood, low literacy rates which result in high poverty levels, poor sanitation and infrastructure such as electricity, warehouses, irrigation schemes and roads.
It is against this background that the report recommends the Tanzanian government to promote nutrition sensitive agriculture, create awareness on the issues of nutrition, especially on food quality and consumption of diverse diets and introduce post-harvest management programmers.
Despite the critical food insecurity and the widening of the vulnerable areas, Tanzania has increased its livestock production between 2017 and 2018.
The Tanzania Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Committee report noted that meat production increased by 2% from 601 822 tonnes in 2017/2018 to 611 297 tonnes in 2018/2019. Similarly, milk production also increased by 2% from 2.4 billion litres in 2017/2018 to 2.6 billion litres in 2018/19.
The overall growth of the livestock sector was 0.6% lesser in 2017 compared to 2.6 % in 2016.
On the other hand, the aggregate crop production or grain equivalent for the 2018/2019 season is forecasted to be 16.4 million tonnes, which is slightly lower than that of 2017/2018 crop season which was 16.9 million tonnes.
Many crops were affected by pests, mainly fall army worm which was reported in 180 districts out of 184 by May, 2019.
Meanwhile, the total food requirements for 2019/20 is estimated to stand at 13.8 million tonnes and the figure will be slightly over and above the requirements for the year.
“Based on the analysis for the 2018/19 Crop Season Forecast Survey, the findings suggests that the food situation is going remain satisfactory in 2019/20 consumption year attaining Self Sufficient Ratio (SSR) of 119,” the report said.
In overall recommendation, the Tanzanian government was urged to improve infrastructure and management of disasters and diseases, particularly outbreaks affecting humans, crops and livestock.
The was urged to invest in safety net programmes to improve the lives and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people, increase quality of food intake and proper child feeding methods, improve availability and accessibility of water, hygiene and sanitation.