TANZANIA – A preliminary food assessment report issued by the government indicates that the country is set to record a bumper harvest in the 2018/19 season, placing the total grain output at 16,408,309 tonnes.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga outlined that the total harvest will consist of cereal crops recording 9,007,909 tonnes and 7,400,400 tonnes for non-cereals.

However, compared to the last season (2017/18), food crop production will have decreased by 483,665 tonnes wherein cereals, especially maize, has decreased by 455,642 tonnes and rice by 210,454 tonnes.

The assessment shows non-cereal production has increased by 46,283 tonnes, a Daily News update reveals.

“The overall production of cereal crops this farming season has reached 103 per cent and non- cereals 145 per cent, bringing average crop production in general to 119 per cent,” he said.

The contribution of food crop production nationally in 2018/19 shows that maize will take up a 35 per cent share, 17 per by cent cassava, while rice and potatoes will account for 12 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

“The current food security results from high production in the 2017/18 season,” explained Mr Hasunga, stressing that despite such a situation, food stability was expected to differ at regional level.

“The regions expected to experience food shortage with the rate of 98-99 per cent, include Dodoma, Mara, Mwanza, Arusha, Tabora, Shinyanga, Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro.

“The reasons behind food shortage in some regions include delayed rainfall, destructive insects, mostly fall armyworms and animals,” he explained.

He added that the evaluation showed that food availability was expected to be at surplus level in 11 regions with the rate of 128-227 per cent, while seven regions were expected to be self-sufficient with the rate of 109-119 per cent.

According to him, the government is set to strengthen food security to enable it offer food relief, whenever needed as well as evaluate the food status and nutrition as early as possible in all district and municipal councils.

“The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) as well as Cereals and other Produce Board of Tanzania (CPB) are on preparations to start buying food crops from the regions with surplus production.

Similarly, we look forward to also solidifying farm inputs’ availability and distribution system, including fertilisers, pesticides and seeds,” he said.