Agricultural Sector in Tanzania: Opportunities in Tanzania

Agricultural Sector in Tanzania>>Agriculture is a critical economic sector, accounting for 29.1 percent of Tanzania’s GDP and nearly three-quarters of the productive labor force. Moreover, it is the main source of food, industrial raw materials and foreign exchange earnings. Since Tanzania has a variety of climatic and geographic regions, farmers grow a variety of annual and perennial crops. This includes food and cash crops as well as fruits, vegetables and spices. Major agricultural exports include tea, coffee, tobacco, cotton, and cashew nuts. In addition, some farmers raise livestock including cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens, as well as small numbers of turkeys, ducks, rabbits, donkeys and horses.
The primary agro-ecological regions of Tanzania are the coastal plains, the northern highlands, the southern highlands, and the central arid plains. The agro-ecosystem is characterized by dry lands and extreme rainfall variability, which limits productivity and contributes to land degradation, leaving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers vulnerable to weather-related and other agriculture-related shocks.
The most common food and cash crops in Tanzania are maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, sorghum and sugarcane. Multiple factors influence a farmer’s choice of crops, including 1) physical factors, such as soil quality and water availability; 2) economic factors, such as marketability and seed prices; 3) personal preferences of the family; 4) features of crops, including crop yield and pest resistance; 5) Availability of resources such as machinery and fertilizers.
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Maize is Tanzania’s staple crop and production is widely distributed across agricultural development zones and regions, which are adapted to agroecology ranging from near sea level to 2,400 meters (m) above sea level, depending on the variety. The productivity of maize is very low despite its importance to the food security and economic well-being of the country. However, the main agroecology is located in the range 500-1500 m. The Southern Highlands and Lake District occupy approximately 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively, of Tanzania’s maize harvesting area. It is followed by the eastern (13%), northern (12%), western (10%), southern (8%) and central (6%) regions. Small farmers produce 85 percent of the national production while medium and large farmers make up ten and five percent, respectively.
While Tanzania’s economy has grown steadily over the past decade, more than 49 percent of Tanzania’s population lives on less than $1.90 a day (World Bank, 2011). Malnutrition remains high. More than 34 percent of children under the age of five are stunted and about 45 percent of women of childbearing age are anaemic. To help Tanzania achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2—to end hunger, promote sustainable agriculture, achieve food security and improve nutrition—USAID is working closely with the country to address these challenges.
Tanzania’s agriculture sector – which contributes nearly a third of the country’s GDP and employs 75 percent of the population – has the potential to increase incomes and improve livelihoods. Feed the Future – the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative – supports plans, led by Tanzania, to reduce poverty and improve nutrition.
The agriculture sector has played an important role as a major driver of economic growth in Tanzania since independence and accounts for nearly 65% ​​of the population dependent on both directly and indirectly. The sector contributes about 28% of the country’s GDP and about 24% of total exports, and ensures food security in the country (FYDP3, 2021). However, these facts literally mean that two-thirds of Tanzanians only work to produce one-third of the country’s GDP.

It should be noted that the rural poverty rate is 31.3%, while the urban poverty rate is 16%. In this sense, agricultural development plays an integral role not only in economic growth but also in poverty reduction in this country. However, the growth rate of agriculture in the past several years (4-5%/year) has failed to meet the national target (6-10%/year) and poverty reduction is lagging behind (World Bank, 2019).
It is against this background that the Government of Tanzania established the Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP) as the framework for agricultural development, and worked to promote agricultural development under the programme. JICA, as one of the Development Partners, which contributed to the formulation of the ASDP, consistently supports the effective implementation and further strengthening of the ASDP Framework through financial and technical assistance. The Government of Tanzania, in collaboration with development partners including JICA, is currently implementing the second phase of the program (2017/2018 – 2022/2023) which focuses on four components: 1) sustainable water and land use management, 2) enhancing agricultural productivity and profitability, 3) Marketing and Value Addition, 4) Sector Enablers, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Also, Tanzania is one of the first group countries in the Alliance for African Rice Development (CARD) which is an advisory group of bilateral donors and regional and international organizations working in cooperation with African rice-producing countries. The government has drafted the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS Phase 1 and 2), which aims to increase rice production in Tanzania from 0.9 million metric tons (MT) to 2.2 million metric tons (MT) in the NRDS Phase 1, and now aims to further double rice production from 2.2 million metric tons to 4.4 million metric tons by 2030 in the second phase of the NRDS.
Tanzania focuses on agriculture as a means of achieving economic growth. Its plans include private sector participation including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor Initiative in Tanzania, a public-private partnership to increase agribusiness investment in the country’s Southern Corridor.
The Food for the Future initiative makes targeted investments focused on private sector development to ensure the long-term sustainability of poverty reduction and nutrition goals. These investments help small farmers to be more competitive in the production and marketing of staple foods such as rice and maize, increase production of horticultural products (vegetables and fruits), and build rural feeder roads to improve farmers’ access to markets.
To improve nutrition, Feed the Future encourages consumption of high-quality nutritious foods and improved food processing technologies such as fortifying flour with micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A, zinc and folic acid.
Moreover, private sector investment and policy initiatives improve the enabling environment for business to promote agricultural growth. Research activities conducted in partnership with local institutions help build capacities for long-term agricultural development.
Limited access to productive and financial resources, poor infrastructure, and poor policies reduce incentives to develop the agriculture sector.
Private sector investment in agriculture is constrained by limited access to long-term capital, low levels of business capacity and skills, and policies that discourage growth.
Climate change poses significant risks to continued drought and unpredictable weather, threatening the livelihoods of subsistence farmers.
Rapid population growth and agricultural expansion pose a threat to Tanzania’s natural resources that, when managed effectively, support livelihoods and agriculture.
Agriculture improvements: More than 190,000 hectares of land are now subject to improved agricultural techniques/practices.
Yield gains: The rice yield per acre of participating farmers nearly doubled.
Sector-wide gains: At least 450,000 people have benefited from “Food for the Future” value chain interventions.