It is difficult to believe that large quantities of people could go hungry in a country that relies heavily on agriculture to sustain its economy, but that’s exactly the case in Tanzania. Not only does agriculture account for a quarter of Tanzania’s GDP, but also approximately 75 percent of Tanzanians (most of whom are women) are employed by that sector. Yet nearly half of households don’t have access to adequate amounts of food, and Tanzania’s malnutrition levels are among the highest in Africa. Something isn’t adding up.
What is the problem? It isn’t that Tanzania is exporting all of its food, leaving its own people to starve. Tanzania is actually considered “food self-sufficient,” meaning that it makes most of the food its people need to live. The problem is poverty. Classified as a low-income country and ranked in the bottom fifth of countries in terms of human development, Tanzania simply hasn’t yet developed the infrastructure necessary to get the food from the fields into the hands of those who need it most.
The future is bright, though. Tanzania’s economy has been growing for several years and has the potential for continued growth. Targeted agricultural infrastructure investments could radically reduce the number of hungry Tanzanians, as Tanzania already has excellent land and water resources, in addition to international access via a major port city (Dar es Salaam.) The climate disposes itself to a wide variety of crops, and simply improving the quality and amount of seeds available to Tanzania’s agriculture sector and building the rural roads necessary for the distribution of food could vastly increase Tanzania’s food yield.
International aid organizations like USAID are already working to make hunger in Tanzania a thing of the past. The Tanzanian government is also taking steps to eradicate poverty in its country by instituting policies and programs such as Kilimo Kwanza (which means “agriculture first”) and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, which aim to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by promoting agricultural growth. Motivated to feed themselves, the Tanzanian people simply require the capital to make prosperity a reality.
— Elise L. Riley