AGRICULTURE is undoubtedly the largest and most important sector of the Tanzanian economy, with the country benefitting from a diverse production base that includes livestock, staple food crops and a variety of cash crops.
The sector’s contribution to GDP has more than tripled in the last 10 years, supported by rising cash crop production, an emerging agro-processing segment and strong domestic demand for processed food.
At the same time, farmers and other sector stakeholders face considerable challenges in modernizing the industry to increase yields, exports and value-added processing.
Slowing export revenues; land acquisition hurdles; and smallholder farmers struggling to access economically viable technology, adequate storage facilities, markets and credit have affected private investment.
Although the country’s food self-sufficiency ratio ranged from 88% to 125% between 1994 and 2015, according to government data, the nation continues to rely on imports to meet demand for sugar, edible oil and cereal crops.
The government is moving to address these challenges by reducing dozens of levies on the sector in the FY 2017/18 budget, targeting select industries for new investment under the current five-year development plan (FYDP) running to 2020/21 and – perhaps most importantly – moving forward on a major development project along Tanzania’s southern corridor that should attract billions of dollars of new private investment from inside and outside the country.
These measures will support near- and mid-term growth targets as agriculture is set to continue its critical role in future industrialization and macroeconomic expansion.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is responsible for agricultural development in Tanzania, with a mandate to provide policy guidance and services in support of a modernized, commercialized and competitive sector.
There are nine agencies and 10 boards specific to cash crops operating under the MoA. Agencies include the National Food Reserve Agency, the Agricultural Seed Agency, the Tanzania Fertilizer Regulatory Authority and the Agricultural Inputs Trust Fund.
The cashcrop boards include the Tanzania Tobacco Board, the Sugar Board of Tanzania, the Tea Board of Tanzania, the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania and the Tanzania Cotton Board.