Tanzania - Agriculture

As the pillar of both the domestic and the export economy, the agricultural sector in Tanzania engages 80 percent of the labor force , which equaled approximately 13.495 million in 1999, while providing 49 percent of the

country's GDP (est. 1996). Agricultural products include coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum, cashew nuts, tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava, bananas, and vegetables. Livestock production includes cattle, sheep, and goats. Agricultural output remains predominately based on small holder production, as opposed to estate cultivation, though the latter does account for some sisal, tea, coffee, tobacco, rice, wheat, and wattle (construction material made of tied-together poles or sticks) production. Cash crops, such as coffee, tea, cotton, cashews, sisal, cloves, and pyrethrum account for the vast majority of export earnings. Maize, paddy, wheat, and cassava are produced for domestic consumption.

In terms of agricultural exports, coffee constitutes the most important cash crop. According to the IMF, coffee accounted for 17.7 percent of Tanzania's total exports in 1996. At 16.3 percent of total exports, cotton was the second most important cash crop, followed by cashew nuts (12.7 percent), tobacco (6.4 percent), tea (2.9 percent), and sisal (0.7 percent). In Zanzibar, the major cash crop is cloves, 90 percent of which are produced on the island of Pemba. The major importers of Tanzania's agricultural exports consist of the EU countries, especially the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.

In the past, the agricultural sector was completely controlled by the government. While liberalization of the sector has rapidly occurred, there are still government marketing boards that set quasi-official (semi-official) prices for certain crops. Purchasers are not forced to abide by the set prices, but often feel compelled to because most peasants normally support the prices the government establishes. This has led to some conflict, and most recently a dispute has emerged between cashew producers and cashew exporters over the government-set prices. While the former supports the prices, the latter argues they are unreasonable. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI) argues that the quasi-official prices are detrimental to agricultural growth, as they cause confusion and conflict. At the same time, however, the government argues that they apply pressure on private purchasers to pay fair prices for different crops. Despite the pressures of deregulation in the agricultural sector, the government has not made plans to abandon the quasi-official pricing system.

The February 2001 Tanzania Country Report issued by the EIU forecasts that GDP growth in Tanzania will equal 5.3 percent in 2001 and 5.9 percent in 2002. Not surprisingly, this growth will be led by the production of traditional agricultural commodity exports. While growth in GDP represents a positive development, the cash crop basis of this growth renders it largely unsustainable. In other words, Tanzania is currently experiencing a period of favorable production conditions, which, due to the volatile (frequently changing) nature of the weather, are guaranteed to change, for better or worse.

Production patterns in Tanzania and other agriculturally based developing nations oscillate (rapidly increase and decrease) dramatically, according to the shifting weather conditions in a given harvest year. In the past 10 years, for instance, maize production in Tanzania has varied considerably, ranging from a high of 2,638 produced tons in 1995-96, to a low of 2,107 tons in 1996-97. Though maize production is largely for domestic consumption, the same unstable patterns of production characterize agricultural crops designated for exportation, as both are subject to the debilitating effects of drought and flooding during the rainy season.

The volatile prices of agricultural commodities on international markets exacerbate (make worse) the instability of countries such as Tanzania that are highly dependent upon cash crop exports. For example, in any given year, the international prices of a commodity such as coffee can increase or decrease considerably, depending upon how much or how little all coffee-producing countries collectively produce. If there is a large international coffee harvest, prices will diminish, as competition will increase. The same holds true in the opposite direction.

Another major inhibiting factor working against the sustainability of growth generated by agricultural production relates to the small amount of existing arable land in Tanzania. Only 4 percent of all land is arable, with only 1 percent suitable for permanent crops. To make matters worse, Tanzania currently confronts issues of soil degradation, deforestation, and desertification . For all these reasons, it is imperative that Tanzania develop the other sectors of its economy.

Also read article about Tanzania from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 19, 2009 @ 11:23 pm
Excellent data provided. I want 2 know in detail maize production in your country.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 9, 2010 @ 11:23 pm
Currently we heard about kilimo kwaza,how does this project benefit the farmers?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 3, 2011 @ 5:05 am
i like this article.im in university of dodoma taking BA in project planning, management and community development so i request from you if you can send to me sample agricultural programmes and current agricultural policies on agricultural sector so that i can leatn more. i will be glad if my request will be accepted.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 3, 2011 @ 8:08 am
i want 2 know how information technology play ze big role to create deveropment to agriculture
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 16, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
Interesting... but sounds VERY complicated... I want to know more about what foods are produced where.
denis ndege
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 14, 2011 @ 8:08 am
what are the roles of agriculture sector in Tanzania
David mpanduji
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 15, 2011 @ 12:00 am
I want to know more about the roles of community development projects in my country
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 21, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
I like to know why tanzani has goog policies in agriculture but fail to implement them? For what i know is that, most of the policies made for political ambition and poor link between researchers, extension officers and the famers, also poor allocation of resources, as the management have to understand which things to start within a sequence of activities, if they want to deal with grain production, they have to choose which to start either paddy or maize and at what region. I HAVE MANY REASONS BECAUSE AM A STUDENT OF SOKOINE UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, TAKING AGRI ECONOMICS AND AGRIBUSINESS(AEA)
rukonge avitus
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 11, 2012 @ 6:06 am
if agriculture is contributing more than 80% of the national income why the government is not providing good support as compared to other sectors like minerals sector whose investors are not even paying tax to the nation?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:23 pm
Its true that about 80% of the population in Tanzania depend on Agriculture to sustain their livelihoods! Yet, there are a lot of challanges that need mult-desciplinary approaches and sectoral integration to harmonize the situation! The principles of sustainable agriculture production from Rural Production Systems is concerned are to be imposed to the farmers through Farmer Field Schools (FFS), Demeonstration plots, all these can be done if farmers are tought how to participate in different participatory development projects partaining to agriculture rather enclosing them into the "BOX"!
Mult-parternship and collaborative measures and approches should be employed!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 8, 2013 @ 1:01 am
I want to know the contribution of hortculture in the growth of the economy of the country
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 27, 2015 @ 4:04 am
What happened to agric contribution to Tanzania's GDP from 49 in 1999 to about a half (24.7 in 2013)? Have farmers stopped growing? What about the new emerging sectors? Which are they? Does Tanzania experience the same speed of poverty reduction, even in time when the agricultural sector contribution has shrink?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 9, 2015 @ 10:10 am
The problem with Tanzania Agriculture mostly depends on rain-fed which has a risk of 95%, through this we can not move we shall be moving back because of climatic change which accelerating to DROUGHT each year. Apart from this also our farmer are not using good AGRONOMIC PRACTICES in farming e.g application of good and certified seeds. Market is also a threatening our farmers most of them they do not have market information. Quality of the produce is also a problem e.g Cotton farmers is poor compared to the world market criteria. All these have to do with the CAPITAL most of them SUPPORT FARMERS TO FEED MORE THAN 45Millions Tanzanian
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 22, 2015 @ 10:10 am
tanzania Government have to be serious in solving the farmers financial support without doing so will remain propoganda in political looking the votes

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:


Tanzania forum