The availability of the staple crop will also be complicated by political instability in some neighbouring countries, but the supply shortcoming will be offset by imports.
According to the 2016 Tanzania Corn, Wheat and Rice Report prepared by Benjamin Mtaki, total output will decrease to 5.5 million tonnes from six million tonnes harvested during the 2015/16 year.
Total supply during the period will reach 6.9 million tonnes from the previous level of 6.7 million tonnes.
USDA said the report, which assesses commodity and trade issues, does not necessarily reflect the US government’s policy.
“In the marketing year 2016/17, maize production is expected to decrease due to erratic and below average rainfall that are forecast by the Tanzania Meteorology Agency (TMA) in key growing regions,” the report reads.
The key growing areas of maize in the country are Iringa, Mbeya, Ruvuma, Rukwa, Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Kagera, Morogoro, Arusha and Manyara regions. Small-scale farmers produce 85 per cent of national production while medium and large-scale farmers make up ten and five per cent respectively.
The report also has it that the area under maize production is forecast to increase in 2016/2017 due to implementation of the Big Results Now (BRN) programme. The goal of BRN is to increase maize production by 100,000 ha per year beginning 2015/2016, and reach 350,000 ha in commercial production and 330,000 ha in smallholder production by 2025.
The USDA report forecasts maize consumption to increase due to higher demand in refugee camps but also says the demand will be met by local production. It also has it that consumption of wheat and rice will surpass production resulting in a deficit that will be offset by imports.
“Corn consumption is forecast to increase in year 2016/2017, partly because of the increase in demand in refugee camps arising from the political crisis in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” the department notes in the report.
The country is expected to import 20,000 metric tonnes of the crop during the season. Minimal reported imports are expected from neighbouring countries due to informal cross-border trade, it said.
Bank of Tanzania (BoT) figures show that the food and foodstuffs imports amounted to US$541.7 million compared to US$632.6 million. During the year, the value of imports declined to US$12.4 billion from US$13.5 billion in 2014.
The US report says maize exports to neighbouring countries are expected to remain flat at around 400,000 metric tonnes. According to it, maize is a primary staple crop in Tanzania of high priority to the government.