Agriculture is the foundation of the Tanzanian economy.  It accounts for about half of the national income, three quarters of merchandise exports and is source of food and provides employment opportunities to about 80 percent of Tanzanians.  It has linkages with the non-farm sector through forward linkages to agro-processing, consumption and export; provides raw materials to industries and a market for manufactured goods.

Agriculture in Tanzania is dominated by smallholder farmers (peasants) cultivating an average farm sizes of between 0.9 hecters and 3.0 hecters each.  About 70 percent of Tanzania’s crop area is cultivated by hand hoe, 20 percent by ox plough and 10 percent by tractor.  It is rainfed agriculture. Food crop production dominates the agriculture economy 5.1 million ha. are cultivated annually, of which 85 percent is under food crops.  Women constitute the main part of agricultural labour force. The major constraint facing the agriculture sector is the falling labour and land productivity due to application of poor technology, dependence on unreliable and irregular weather conditions. Both crops and livestock are adversely affected by periodical droughts.

Irrigation holds the key to stabilizing agricultural production in Tanzania to improve food security, increase farmers’ productivity and incomes, and also to produce higher valued crops such as vegetables and even flowers.

Urban Agriculture:

Urban agriculture has flourished as a household – level initiative to cope with economic hardships encountered as a result of raising cost of living.  Urban agriculture that consists of raising and growing of vegetable and food crops is found in Tanzanian towns and cities where the ready market for Agricultural products are found.  Producers of vegetables, milk, broilers’ meat and eggs sell to private households and to school, hotels, hospitals, bars, cafeterias and restaurants.


Agriculture Performance:

Agricultural GDP has grown at 3.3 percent per year since 1985, the main food crops at 3.5 percent and export crops at 5.4 percent per year.  Considering that the overall GDP growth target for halving abject poverty by 2010 is in the range of 6-7 percent, this performance falls short of the needed growth.  

The macro economic reforms have and continue to have had significant impact on the Agriculture sector.  The economic reforms have lead to the opening up of the sector to private investment in production and processing, input importation and distribution and agricultural marketing. Most of production and processing and marketing functions have been assigned to the private sector.  The Government has retained regulatory and public Support functions or facilitation role.  

Farmers are free to sell their crops to cooperatives or private traders. Due to competition, normal producer prices for food & export crops have increased  as such farmers can now sell their produce much faster. Farmers are no longer confined to a single source for their essential inputs for crops and livestock.


The Government recognizes the pivotal role of the agricultural sector both in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction.  Also the strong influence of factors outside the sector such as infrastructure, rural financial services, land ownership and good governance is recognised.   

Priority actions include:

·        The pursuit of macroeconomic policies that will motivate investment in agriculture by small holders and  large – scale commercial farmers.

·        Creation of an enabling environment and provide proactive support to private operators, farmers organizations, NGOs and CBOs supplying inputs and credit to small farmers and ensuring a strong regulatory mechanism

·        Concentration of budgetary allocations in agriculture research and extension.  

·        Provision of special support to investments in agricultural processing particularly in fruits and vegetables and accord top priority to implementation of new land Act.


Potentials in the Agricultural Sector:

Tanzania is well endowed with a variety of farming systems with climatic variations and agro-ecological conditions of which crops can be grown.  The major staples include:

-                     maize,

-                     sorghum

-                     millet

-                     rice

-                     wheat

-                     pulses (mainly beans)

-                     cassava

-                     potatoes

-                     bananas and plantains  

Export crops:

-                     coffee

-                     cotton

-                     cashewnut

-                     tobacco

-                     sisal

-                     pyrethrum

-          tea

-          cloves

-                     Horticultural crops

-                     Oil seeds

-                     Spices and flowers


Agro – Ecological Zones (AEZ):

                   Coastal plains

                   Eastern plateaus and mountain blocks

                   Southern Highlands

                   Northern rift zone and volcanic highlands

                   Central plateau

                   Rukwa – Ruaha rift valley

                   Inland Sedimentary

                   Ufipa and 

                   Western highlands


          Farming Systems:

          There are 10 farming systems

i)                   Banana/Coffee/Horticulture system

Found in Kagera, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Kigoma and Mbeya regions.

-        tree crop

-        high intensive land use

-        volcanic soils with high fertility

-        land scarce

          ii)       Maize/Legume system:        

Found in Rukwa, Ruvuma, Arusha, Kagera, Shinyanga, Iringa, Mbeya, Kigoma, Tabora, Tanga, Morogoro, Kahama, Biharamulo

-        land not scarce

-        shifting cultivation

-        maize & legumes, beans and groundnuts intercropped, Arabic coffee.


          iii)      Cashew/Coconut/Cassava System:

                   Found in coast region; eastern Lindi and Mtwara:

                   -        low rainfall

                   -        low soil fertility

                   -        cassava, coconut and cashew

                   -        land is not scarce

                   -        shifting cultivation


          iv)      Rice/Sugar cane system

                   Found in alluvial river valleys

                    -        rice and sugarcanes


          v)       Sorghum/Bulrush millet/Livestock system:

                   Found in Sukumaland; Shinyanga and rural Mwanza

                   -        Sorghum, millet, maize and cotton, oilseeds and rice

                   -        intense population pressure

                   -        declining soil fertility


           vi)                Tea/Maize/Pyrethrum system:

Found in Njombe and Mufindi districts in Iringa region

-        Tea, Maize, Irish potatoes, beans, wheat, pyrethrum, wattle trees and sunflower


           vii)             Cotton/Maize system:

Found in Mwanza, Shinyanga Kagera, Mara, Singida, Tabora and Kigoma, Morogoro, Coast, Mbeya, Tanga, Kilimanjaro  and Arusha. 

-        cotton, sweet potatoes, maize, sorghum and groundnuts

-        Intensive cultivation

-        livestock kept


          viii)    Horticulture based system:

Found in Lushoto district; Tanga region, Morogoro rural; Morogoro region and Iringa rural in Iringa region.

-        Vegetables, (cabbages, tomatoes, sweet pepper, cauliflower lettuce and indigenous vegetables) and fruits, (pears, apples, plums, passion fruits and avocado


-        Maize, coffee, Irish potatoes, tea and beans.


          ix)      Wet – rice and irrigated system

-        Occupies river valleys and alluvial plains, Kilombero, Wami Valleys, Kilosa, Lower Kilimanjaro, Ulanga, Kyela, Usangu and Rufiji.


          x)       Pastoralists and Agropastoralist System

Found in semi-arid areas i.e. Dodoma, Singida, parts of Mara and Arusha; Chunya districts, Mbeya and Igunga district in Tabora.

                   Deep attachment to livestock and simple cropping system


                   Shifting cultivation of sorghum millet


                   Moderate population density 30 per sq. Km of 26


                   Limited resource base and poor and variable rainfall



Tanzania has a potential for attaining sustainable irrigation development in order to assure basic food security, improve the national standards of living and also contribute to economic growth of the country.  There is:

·        Availability of water resources e.g. small and big rivers and lakes.

·        Available irrigatable land at 1.0 million ha. but currently only 150,000 hectares are cultivated under irrigation  

·        National Irrigation Development Plan  and Agriculture Policy are in place 

·        Potential revenue can be tapped from irrigation water as user charge.


Investment Potentials:

Under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the following parastatals are potential for investments:

§         Mbozi coffee farms with a total land area of 409.32 hectares: Ishera, Ndungu, Tukumbi, Ng'amba, Ihanda and Hanseketewe. 

§         Cashewnut Company and Factories in Mtwara, Kibaha, Likombe, Masasi, Newala, Tanita in Dar es Salaam, Lindi, Nachingwea and Tunduru. 

§         National Milling Company; Rice Mills in Isaka, Tabora, Shinyanga, Mtwara, Iringa, NMC residential properties, Mwanza maize Mill, Mtwara Hammer Mill, Wheat and Maize Mill in Ausha.  

§         Bagamoyo Farms Limited.

§         Tanzania Seed Company (Kwamtili Estate).  

§         Rice Farm - Dakawa, Mbalari Rice Farm, Kapunga Projects, Madibira Project and Ruvu Maize Farms, Mbozi, Namtumbo Project.  

§         Wheat Farms/Workshop-Basutu plantation, Gawal, Gidagamwd, Mulbadaw, Murandja, seteet wheat Co. ltd, warret and Central Maintenance Services Centre - CMSC.  

§         Sugar Farms: National Sugar Institute; Kagera Sugar Company limited.

§         Agro Processing Industries: Manawa Ginneries, Pamba Engineering Limited, TANICA, Tanganyika Coffee Establishment Ltd.; and Roasting Units.


Other Investment opportunities:

§         Establishing farm machinery and equipments plants

§         Operating tractor hire centres

§         Establishing ox training centres

§         Establishing training institutes

§         Establishing research centres

§         Developing human & animal power technologies

§         Operating agriculture mechanization centres

§         Provision/training of extension experts

§         Agriculture researchers

§         Establishing agricultural information centres


12.     Support Services and Information:



i)        Research remains a core function of the government.

§         The Government encourages more private sector involvement independently or jointly in research planning and funding.


§         In order to increase investments in research on a sustainable basis the government encourages the active participation by commodity/crop agencies in research funding and planning; from cooperative societies, unions and commodity boards.


§         Appropriate mechanisms will be established to collect and administer such funds.


§         Private sector will be encouraged to participate in funding research and where necessary to own and manage research in particular enterprises.


§         Government funding will be directed mainly to food crop, livestock, resource management and engineering research.


§         The government will encourage the private sector as well as the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) where feasible, to participate in research particularly in the areas of testing of drugs, development of special technologies and seed processing.


ii)       Training:

Agricultural training will not remain a monopoly of the government but private sector will be encouraged to carry out specialized training.


iii)      Extension Service:

Extension services delivery will not be a monopoly of the government.  Private sector participation for collaborative efforts will be promoted and where necessary private sector will be allowed to own and manage extension services for specific enterprises such as beef, dairy, poultry, small ruminants, horticulture, tobacco and other subsectors which call for special attention.  In areas where private sector offer extension services by providing funding, planning, monitoring and evaluation, the government will play a coordinating role.


iv)      Seeds:

Private sector is allowed to produce, distribute and market seeds.  Production of breeder seed is done at research institutes, foundation seed production on five foundation seed farms now under the Department of Research and Development, and certified production by contract growers vested in Arusha, Morogoro, Iringa regions.  Tanzania Seed Company (TANSEED) is involved in both foundation seed farms and certified seed production.  The Tanzania Official Seed Certification Agency (TOSCA) is responsible for quality control from the foundation seed farm stage up to the sale of certified seed to the farmers.  The Main Seeds produced are hybrid and composite maize, sorghum, beans, wheat and sunflower.


Private Companies involved in seed production and distribution are Cargill Hybrid Seeds, Pioneer Hybrid International and Paunar and Rotian Seeds Company.


The Seed production system in Tanzania is governed by the Seed Act No. 29 of 1973, and the Seeds (Registration of Standards) Act.

A new approach known as community based seed production has been introduced as well, whereby selected farmers, who have received specific training in Seed Multiplication, are supplied with foundation seed which they then multiply under the supervision of extension workers.  TOSCA is responsible for inspecting the fields and the final product.  Farmers sell the seed produced locally as “Quality Declared Seed” with simple packaging and labeling, at a reduced price.