Agriculture in Tanzania
Over the past several decades, the United Republic of Tanzania, founded in 1964 following full independence from the United Kingdom, has undergone various economic reforms and agreements to seek international aid in order to improve opportunity and reduce widespread poverty. The East African nation, which remains substantially diverse and faces uneven poverty rates across disparate regions, promulgated a new constitution in 1992 and has since sought to enhance social and economic opportunity following decades of marginal gains. As a component of these reforms and initiatives, agriculture has assumed a prominent role in the development of strategies to reduce poverty and increase food security. Agriculture, which employs about 40% of the nation’s workforce, is largely composed of cereal plants, such as millet and barley as well as cash crops such as coffee plants. Here is more information about agriculture in Tanzania.

Farming in Tanzania

Tanzania’s farms, largely composed of individually operated small and medium-sized farms and smallholders, are a resource to the Tanzanian economy through export and domestic food security

However, though agriculture has become progressively more important to the economy, productivity has not substantially increased. As a result, the country has experienced an increase in the amount of land used and uneven mechanization, such as the use of tractors, to increase productivity. Through the first 20 years of independence, challenges in establishing essential services such as supplies delivery, resources and market regulations kept productivity and revenue from farming low. 

Reforms in Agriculture in Tanzania

Beginning in the 1980s, various reforms reversed the decline in agriculture, though the sector still proved unable to improve the overall poverty and food security situation. Over the past decade, the Tanzanian Government has developed a series of new strategies to overcome this relative stagnation. The new approach places agriculture, farming and the local sale of food at the core of the poverty reduction strategy. This strategy also provides state funding for investment in new farming practices, the development of essential infrastructure and education. This entrepreneurship approach has recently assumed a larger role in successful strategies in sub-Saharan Africa to counter strife in access to food and limited economic opportunity. 

Agriculture investments that improve prospects as a means of advancing food security and socioeconomic opportunity for disadvantaged populations have attracted international attention, with various multinational organizations engaging in such initiatives as efforts to expand upon initial success. 

The United Nations Initiative to Help Women Farmers

Beginning in 2022, the United Nations began a joint initiative targeting women farmers to improve education in water management, crop storage and enhancing resilience to extreme weather conditions. Only 8% of women, who face historic social and economic disadvantages and prejudice, own land independently and represent among the most vulnerable demographics in rural Tanzania. The scheme has proven effective with those who participated, with income often doubling for those participating, thereabouts 300 female farmers. 

Global EverGreening

Similarly, Global EverGreening, an international coalition of aid organizations overseen by Oxfam and several other aid organizations, will provide technical assistance and job opportunities to farmers in several East African nations, including Tanzania, in order to revitalize land depleted by inefficient land management. These plans will also emphasize enhancing opportunities for women in agriculture. 

The World Bank is also investing in improving resilience and resources for East Africa, with substantial investments taking place in Tanzania. As part of an array of financial aid, the World Bank pledged support for programs aimed at improving farming productivity by investing in improved infrastructure to ensure the delivery of seeds and locally-grown food to local markets and providing fiscal guidance and aid to allow reinvestment.

Such expanding programs aim to permit farmers in Tanzania to invest in resources and agricultural technologies that work to ensure more consistent food supplies. Additional investments in novel ways of developing means of supplying domestic markets, such as cooperative markets, are also intended to reduce local deprivation.

Looking Ahead

In brief, while agriculture has taken on increasing importance in the United Republic of Tanzania’s work against continued poverty and food insecurity, other structural challenges, such as limited resources for female farmers, mixed infrastructure and inefficient farming practices remain hurdles. 

The cohesive approach of recent aid programs and the Tanzanian Government’s interest in improving agriculture in Tanzania offers an expanding entrepreneurial approach that may offer a means to both correct longstanding barriers to those most in need of opportunity and improve food security in unstable times. Efforts involve facilitating investments in novel farming techniques, such as new technologies to detect water levels and supply chains for rural food delivery.

– Cormac Sullivan
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in Tanzania
USAID is working jointly with the Tanzanian government to reduce poverty and improve nutrition, especially in the agricultural sector. The Feed the Future initiative and the Tanzanian government provide targeted investments focused on developing the private sector. In turn, these investments will contribute to the long-term sustainability of programs that reduce poverty and improve nutrition. In practice, these investments assist small-holder farmers employed in agriculture in Tanzania to increase their production and be more competitive in the production and marketing of their products. These efforts have consequently increased farmers’ access to markets because of a greater ability to construct rural feeder roads.

Although problems remain, there are sure signs of progress for this U.S. and Tanzania partnership. Among these returns on investment, participating farmers have seen their productivity of rice per acre close to doubling and now “at least 450,000 people have benefited from the Feed the Future value chain interventions,” according to USAID. Another promising partnership addressing the sustainability of agriculture in the country is Tanzania’s own, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania.

Tanzania’s Circumstances in Numbers

According to USAID Feed the Future report from November 2019, the United Republic of Tanzania is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Success in economic growth aside, more than 49% of the population suffers from extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 per day. Furthermore, more than 34% of children younger than the age of 5 suffer from stunting and about 45% of women of reproductive age are anemic. Much of Tanzania’s public health and economic woes are in part attributable to the agricultural sector, a sector that employs 75% of the population and provides about a third of GDP.

Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT)

Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), a member of the umbrella organization International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM Organics International), is a solutions-based organization that combines education, marketing, research and networking to improve agriculture in the country. SAT alleviates food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition by addressing unsustainable farming practices through educating, marketing, researching and networking in Tanzania.

This combination of tactics has resulted in small-holder farmers across Tanzania seeing significant benefits. The benefits these expertise programs have brought to Tanzania include an average 38% increase in participating farmers’ income and an increase in production reported by 66% of facilitated farmers, according to SAT. The health benefits for Tanzanians entail near-zero exposure to environmental toxins because farmers avoid the use of chemicals and 76% of facilitated farmers reported a more balanced diet.

Both of these developments have had a positive impact on public health in the country. As for gains in sustainability, after SAT programs assist farmers, such as the organization’s soil management programs, facilitated farmers saw their agricultural water consumption reduced by 59%, SAT reports. In total, SAT programs have promoted progress in attaining a more profitable, healthier and sustainable Tanzanian agriculture.

SAT has been a monumental partner in Tanzanian agriculture, hence the organization’s acceptance of the “One World Award” in February 2022, an award given to those organizations and people who make the world a better place. SAT has made leaps in progress in Tanzania getting closer to reaching the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the ambitions of IFOAM extend to the rest of the world.

Exporting SAT’s Success

IFOAM, a coalition of successful organizations such as SAT, operates on the international level promoting organic agriculture in pursuit of the U.N. SDGs that aim for zero hunger (SDG 2), good health and well-being (SDG 3) and responsible production and consumption (SDG 12). Organic agriculture can aid in achieving SDG 2 for zero hunger because it increases and stabilizes yields.

This, in turn, saves money that would otherwise go toward chemical treatment. SDG 3 for good health and well-being is on its way to success since farmers, after learning from said programs, are ceasing to use polluting synthetic chemicals on crops, which, in turn, reduces the harmful effects of chemical exposure on people. Furthermore, SDG 12 for responsible production and consumption is closer to success because these programs consolidate value chains, easing the ability of local economies to procure food.

Organizations such as SAT have proven instrumental for Tanzania, creating long-term sustainable development in the country’s agriculture. Exporting such success is a task for far larger organizations, such as IFOAM. The path toward attaining the U.N. SDGs will require the continued commitment of governments, the private sector and local partners and NGOs like SAT and IFOAM. Going forward, the combined efforts of organizations such as SAT and IFOAM stand as promising signs of progress toward reducing global poverty and a more sustainable world.

– Chester Lankford
Photo: Flickr

Rice Production in Tanzania
The use of an innovative technology to increase rice production in Tanzania has recently been approved. The new fertilizer method known as Urea Deep Placement, or UDP, boosts rice production by more than 20 percent per acre.

The cost of fertilizer is increasing, and nitrogen application lacks efficiency. UDP is a modern, crop-boosting fertilizer alternative that is better for the environment. Shortly after rice paddies are planted, farmers strategically bury urea supergranules close to their crops’ root zones. The urea absorbs more effectively into plant roots, cutting fertilizer costs and increasing nitrogen efficiency.

Over 33 percent of Tanzania’s rural population lives in poverty. Agriculture is the country’s industry staple, especially in rural areas. Farming in Tanzania accounted for over 67 percent of employment in 2015, and agricultural production contributes to nearly 30 percent of the country’s GDP.

Rice is Tanzania’s seventh most important crop, and rice production has steadily increased over the past decade. In 2010, Tanzania became a net exporter of rice, producing over 2.6 million tons. Tanzania’s rice production levels are the second highest in Africa, directly behind Madagascar.

UDP was first introduced to the African continent in 2009 after the world witnessed its results in Asian countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia, all of which are big rice producers.

Nitrogen is rice’s most vital nutrient. Using UDP decreases nitrogen losses by up to 40 percent. By enhancing nitrogen efficiency, UDP benefits both global food security and farmer livelihoods while also diminishing widespread pollution. Nitrogen pollution can contribute to climate change and damage water quality, increasing the likelihood of attracting waterborne diseases.

Tanzania Fertilizer Regulatory Authority senior official Allan Mariki expressed the authority’s support of UDP.

“We are encouraging farmers to venture into the system [of UDP utilization], which increases rice production per acreage,” Mariki said.

Tanzania’s newly unveiled five-year Expanding Rice Production Project focuses on improving irrigation and utilizing new agronomic practices such as UDP in order to double the country’s rice production. The implementation of UDP is increasing yields, reducing nitrogen pollution and benefiting Tanzania’s rice industry.

Kristyn Rohrer
Photo: Flickr