Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture

Tanzania 2013

By Almudena Toral

October 01, 2013

Also published by Almudena Toral

Christopher K. Chiza, Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Food, Security and Cooperatives, in his office in Dar Es Salaam.

Because we’re kicking off our International Reporting Project trip in Dar Es Salaam we’re having all the “official” meetings right at the beginning. It’s a great opportunity and very informative, but also a little confusing without having seen a lot of the issues on the ground. Looking forward to talking to farmers soon and hearing about what their needs are and how they are positively or negatively impacted by some of the policies in place. 

For now we have learned about some of the government and donors programs’ goals and how theoretically those are achieving their targets. 

"Africa is no longer an option, it is a must if you want to feed the world," said yesterday Geoffrey Kirenga, the CEO of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), an agricultural partnership working to improve food security in the country by addressing the entire agricultural value chain. 

Tanzania has a population of 48 million people, of which 75% live in rural areas. During the last decade, only about two percent of GDP growth came from agriculture. 

"No country in the world has achieved a decent level of economic development without first addressing its agriculture. It’s the history of the U.S., of Europe," said Tom Hobgood, USAID’s Team Leader of Agriculture and Food Security, in a meeting at Dar Es Salaam’s U.S. embassy today. 

Tanzania has made “Kilimo Kwanza” (“Agriculture First”) a motto to accelerate agricultural transformation and become a middle-income country by 2025. Tanzania’s government is committed to partner with the private sector and foreign investors, and has lifted some previously existing export bans, Mr. Chiza said. 

Considering 60 percent of Tanzania’s food production comes from five regions running along the Tanzania-Zambia railroad, the government has decided to target this southern corridor in most of their policies. No mention of the reality and what’s being done in the most southern areas of the country where the drought hits the hardest. 

A few interesting issues related to agriculture that kept on coming up: land rights, youth employment, stunting, climate change, productivity, women, behavior change. 

A few more numbers for context:

• There are 4.4 million hectares of plantable land in Tanzania, and according to Mr. Kirenga, only 23 percent are being used today.

• By 2030, SAGCOT wants to have additional 350,000 hectares producing.

• Land here is governed by two types of legislation: 10 percent of the land in Tanzania is under the Land Act and 90 percent under the Village Land Act. The Village Land Act is more pro-farmers and allows them to own the land. Current legislation makes it very difficult to convert Village Land Act into Land Act to make it difficult for businesses to access farmers’ land. The 10 percent of Land Act land is purely the state’s and can be devoted to agribusiness and investors.

• Between 15 and 20 percent of the produce is lost after production.

I am reporting on agriculture and food security in Tanzania on a fellowship with the International Reporting Project (IRP).