It’s a new chapter in Tanzania’s agricultural development under Dr. Samia, says the SAGCOT CEO

In the transformative landscape of Tanzania’s agricultural sector, President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan’s administration heralds a new dawn of collaboration, innovation, and growth, according to Mr Geoffrey Kirenga, CEO of SAGCOT Centre.

Thanks to the endorsement of the President, the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) is set to evolve into a more encompassing initiative named the Agriculture Growth Corridors of Tanzania (AGCOT).

He was speaking on Friday, March 15, 2024. Sam Sasali, a renowned journalist and editor at Clouds Media Group, reflected on the significant three-year tenure of President Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan. He was also joined by Dr. Andrew Komba, the Director General of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), and Anthony Chamanga, the Chief Manager (Development) at the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA).

“SAGCOT, known as the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridors of Tanzania, has been a cornerstone in our nation’s agriculture,” Mr. Kirenga explains. “With regions like the Southern Highlands Corridor, previously recognized as the Big 5, nearly 65% of our country’s food is produced here, making it the veritable food basket of Tanzania.”

But the vision doesn’t stop with the south. Tanzania is home to other critical agricultural corridors, including the Mtwara Corridor, the Central Corridor that traces the central railway, and the Northern Corridor, which encompasses the Arusha, Manyara, and Kilimanjaro regions. Each area, as Mr. Kirenga points out, presents unique opportunities for agricultural production that have been meticulously developed over the past decade through synergies between the private sector and the government.

“About 10 years ago, we began to develop investments, particularly involving the private sector in collaboration with the government in this crucial area,” Mr. Kirenga recounts, highlighting the strategic approach taken to elevate Tanzania’s agricultural sector beyond its traditional confines.

This strategy gained further momentum with the endorsement of Hon. Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania, who last year (March) directed the expansion of SAGCOT’s successful strategies across the nation.

“Therefore, we are preparing to extend the work done in SAGCOT to other areas,” Mr. Kirenga states, signaling a new chapter in Tanzania’s agricultural development.

The shift from SAGCOT to AGCOT is not just a change of name but a broadening of scope—aiming to transform all of Tanzania’s agricultural corridors into thriving hubs of productivity and sustainability.

“In our next conversation with you, we won’t just be talking about SAGCOT. We will be discussing the Agriculture Growth Corridors of Tanzania (AGCOT),” Mr. Kirenga remarks, emphasizing the inclusive and expansive future of the initiative.

Bridging Public and Private Realms
Under President Hassan’s stewardship, a robust synergy between the government and the private sector has been the cornerstone of agricultural revitalization. This partnership has paved the way for significant private sector investment, propelling the industry to new heights. Kirenga reflects on this era of opportunity, noting, “There has been significant collaboration between the government and the private sector…the government has provided greater opportunities for the private sector to invest in agriculture,” Mr. Kirenga says,

Doubling Down on Export Success
An indicator of this burgeoning growth is the notable surge in export sales, with figures now doubling from the past years’ averages. Moving from a steady $1 billion to a striking $2.3 billion, Tanzania’s agricultural exports have become a symbol of the sector’s expansion and capability. “This is a significant indication that our sector is growing,” Kirenga remarks, capturing the essence of economic advancement and sustainability.

Dismantling Barriers for Growth
A critical aspect of this journey has been addressing and removing the historical impediments that have hindered the private sector’s full engagement in agriculture. Through concerted efforts, the government and stakeholders have engaged in a comprehensive reform of policies, regulations, and legal frameworks, streamlining processes, and fostering a more investment-friendly environment. Kirenga highlights the transformative impact of these reforms: “You’ve seen these barriers being removed, simpler laws have been enacted, and tax issues have been reduced in areas that were problematic.”

Empowering through Dialogue and Infrastructure
At the core of SAGCOT’s strategy are the cluster meetings – a platform for dialogue between agricultural stakeholders and government officials across all levels. These discussions have been vital in identifying and addressing infrastructural needs critical for the sector’s operation, such as electricity and road networks essential for the transportation of agricultural produce. “For example, if you’ve invested in agriculture and need electricity to reach your business area, it’s provided,” Kirenga illustrates, underlining the commitment to practical solutions and tangible progress.

“Within SAGCOT, there are things called cluster meetings, where stakeholders in agriculture meet with government officials in their regions to discuss what impedes the private sector’s growth, what they need the government to do, especially from those discussions, it is evident what actions are needed. For instance, if you have invested in agriculture, you need electricity to reach your business area, the electricity arrives, you need roads in your area so that you can transport tea, milked dairy, fruits like avocados which are being extensively cultivated in the southern regions as our colleague from TAHA would tell you, but also vegetables and crops, carrots, cabbage need to be transported from rural areas to urban areas. So, when you see the work done by the Rural and Urban Roads Agency (TARURA), it stems from discussions like those, all of these are very important in agriculture.”

Innovating for a Sustainable Future
The focus on technological advancement and the efficient use of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides is viewed as pivotal for increasing productivity. “The greatest opportunity that has been available is to provide a significant contribution and space for the private sector, but most importantly, is how the government invests in policy matters,” says Kirenga, driving home the importance of innovation and sustainability in shaping the sector’s future.