Tanzania: Crop aggregation, bulking, and trading are potential opportunities for women and youth

By Maliki Muunguja, for The https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/

Dar es Salaam. Maize, sunflower, and pulses are significant crops in Tanzania’s food production industry.

Empowering women and youth are crucial for unlocking productivity potential in the value chains. Barriers to women and youth participation in the three value chains do exist as farming businesses are dominated by men in Tanzanian societies.

However, several opportunities are presented to women and youth, including seed supply, equipment leasing, farming, soil testing, extension services to fellow farmers, services around harvesting to post-harvest handling, and transportation to meet the standards.

Moreover, support services such as ICT, financial services, and contract farming arrangements provide a favourable environment for enhancing women and youth engagement in the value chains.

Despite the existence of presented opportunities, women and youth face several challenges, including men’s dominance in the farming business due to patriarchy, poor access to quality inputs, limited access to land, financial credit, and improved technologies.

Furthermore, women have less access to distant markets and exposure to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) information. In this regard, capacity strengthening of youth and women individuals and farmer groups must be done.

By the end of 2020, the share of agricultural activities in Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was projected at 26.9 percent, a 1.6 percent increase compared to the previous year (2019). Since 2012, the sectors’ contribution has remained above 25 percent.

More than half of the country’s workforce is engaged in the industry, whereby 6 in 10 youths (15–35 years old) are consistently farming despite considerable sectorial mobility.

In addition, about 65 percent of farmers in Tanzania are women, accounting for 70 percent of the workforce engaged in food production.

As a result Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) chose to focus on Maize, Sunflower, and Pulses as critical crops produced in Tanzania, whereby the majority of the youths and women are involved.


Tanzania produced about 6.7 metric tonnes, whereby 12 percent was exported to Kenya. Tanzania became among the 25-top maize-producing countries globally and ranked 4th in Africa.

Across the country, both men and women are engaged in maize production. However, women undertake most of the farm activities compared to men. In the food market, men are more involved in the trade of maize grain, whereas women are more engaged in selling maize flour.

Youth also participate in maize farming as unpaid labour under the farming businesses or paid work by other farmers such as small size farms of an average of 1.3 hectares. Generally, men benefit more than women and youth in the maize value chain.


Sunflower is the backbone of the edible oil industry in Tanzania, occupying slightly over half a million hectares, the most significant area covered under oilseeds in the country.

It contributes to over 87 percent of the edible oil industry, while other crops (groundnuts, palm, sesame, etc.) contribute 17 percent.

Both men and women participate in sunflower production, trading, processing, packaging, and selling, although men have more involvement in post-harvesting and processing activities than women.

The number of youth engaged in the value chain is less than the older community members. Even though different social groups participate in the sunflower value chain, it is evident that men have control over productive resources and determine the distribution of income earned from the produce.

On the phenomenon, a study by Mroto (2015) reveals that men lead in decision-making (90 percent) compared to women (60 percent) regarding how income generated from sunflower produce could be spent.


Major pulses grown in Tanzania include beans and cowpeas. It is estimated that pulses cover almost 0.9 million hectares, planted with beans and cowpeas as per 2019/2020 data.

National pulses production stands at 804,593 metric tonnes. In Lindi and Mtwara, Pigeon peas are considered men’s crop and green gram a women’s crop.

In this case, men make decisions in the production of pigeon peas, and incomes are under the control of men, whereby the contribution of revenue from pigeon peas is generally higher than green grams.

Generally, there is a gap in the literature to conclude data disaggregated by sex and age to demonstrate the extent of women and youth participation in the pulses value chain.

However, youth are likely to be attracted to the agricultural value chains with a brief incubation period, such as horticultural value chains (onion, tomato, vegetable).


Sunflower, Maize, and pulses are cropped with high demand considering the staple food value chain in Tanzania.

In particular, sunflower seeds demand in Tanzania is 5,800 tonnes, while the country produces only 1,340 tonnes.

Moreover, 1.7 million tonnes of seeds are required to manufacture 700,000 tonnes of cooking oil whereby the current production capacity is only 360,000 tonnes of seeds, enough to produce 290,000 tonnes of cooking oil failing to meet the demand (600,000 tonnes).

In maize, Tanzania is ranked among the top 25 maize-producing countries. The production of maize accounts for more than 70 percent of the cereal produced in the country.

Maize produced is consumed both locally and in the neighbouring countries. The demand for pulses crops/products keeps growing locally and worldwide. The country accounts for 1.4 percent of global exports in pulses.

Engagement in commercial farming as producers or labourers presents an opportunity to more than 6.8 million women and over 4.4 million youth in Tanzania by NBS, 2014 report and FSDT, 2017 report.

Trading and marketing

Crop aggregation, bulking, and trading are potential opportunities for women and youth in the three value chains. Evidence suggests higher participation of women in crop aggregation.

They are engaged in wholesale businesses buying produce from smallholder farmers and selling to processors and consumers. Similarly, to some extent, youths are highly involved in crop brokering and collection activities from smallholder farmers to significant traders and processors.

In terms of financial services, there is evidence of improving access to financial services in Tanzania. For example, the percentage of adults with access to the services rose from 44% in 2009 to 65 percent in 2017.

Moreover, financial institutions are developing products designed for women and youth. Similarly, the number of youth and women saving, and lending groups are on the rise leading to the improved bankability of women and youth enterprises.

Additionally, the youth and women revolving fund from local government authorities, which requires councils to allocate 10 percent of internal revenues for providing loans to women (4 percent), and youth (4 percent), also presents an opportunity for women and youth.

Under their organisations and individually, women and youth can apply for loans and obtain financial capital to start/expand their businesses in the selected value chains.