Tanzania Rises to Become Africa’s Second Largest Tobacco Producer, Aiming for Record Production in Upcoming Seasons

Anthony Muchoki

In a groundbreaking announcement, Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Hussein M Bashe, declared a significant achievement for the country’s agricultural sector. Tanzania has emerged as the second-largest producer of tobacco in Africa, signaling a remarkable growth trajectory in the industry. The minister revealed that the tobacco production has surged from 50,000 tons to an impressive 122,858 tons during the 2023/24 season, marking a substantial leap in just a year.

This surge in production has not only bolstered Tanzania’s domestic agricultural capabilities but has also positioned the nation as a major player in the African tobacco market. As of December 2023, the export value of Tanzanian tobacco reached a noteworthy $316 million, and projections suggest it could soar to $400 million by the end of the season. This economic boost underscores the positive impact of the agricultural sector on Tanzania’s overall economic growth.

Looking ahead, Tanzania has set ambitious targets for the upcoming agricultural seasons. In the 2024/25 season, the country aims to produce a staggering 200,000 tons of tobacco, with an even more ambitious goal of reaching 300,000 tons in the 2025/26 season. These objectives signify Tanzania’s commitment to sustained growth and development in the tobacco industry, showcasing the nation’s determination to solidify its standing as a key player in the African agricultural landscape.

Comparing the latest tobacco production statistics for the 2022/23 season across Africa, Tanzania’s newfound position is noteworthy:

Zimbabwe: 296,000 tons.
Tanzania: 122,858 tons.
Malawi: 121,000 tons.
Mozambique: 65,800 tons.
Zambia: 44,000 tons.
Uganda: 13,000 tons.
Other countries, including South Africa and Cameroon, each produced less than 20,000 tons.
Tanzania’s ascent to the second position underscores the nation’s strategic focus on enhancing agricultural output and increasing its influence in the tobacco industry across the continent. This accomplishment is a testament to the government’s commitment to fostering sustainable development and economic growth through the agricultural sector.

Minister Hussein M Bashe expressed his satisfaction with the milestone, emphasizing the collaborative efforts of farmers, government initiatives, and private sector contributions that have collectively fueled this remarkable growth. He stated, “Tanzania’s agricultural success is a testament to the resilience and hard work of our farmers. Through strategic policies, investments, and partnerships, we have created an environment conducive to growth and productivity.”

The surge in tobacco production is expected to have cascading effects on Tanzania’s economy, including job creation, increased foreign exchange earnings, and improved livelihoods for farmers. The minister highlighted the importance of sustainable practices in ensuring the long-term viability of the sector, emphasizing the need for responsible farming and environmental conservation.

In response to this milestone, stakeholders in the tobacco industry have expressed optimism about Tanzania’s potential to further shape the African tobacco market. The nation’s ability to meet and surpass production targets has instilled confidence among investors, with the private sector indicating interest in expanding operations and exploring new opportunities within Tanzania’s burgeoning agricultural landscape.

As Tanzania gears up for the upcoming seasons, the government is actively engaging with various stakeholders to address potential challenges, ensure sustainability, and explore innovative agricultural practices. The Ministry of Agriculture is collaborating with research institutions to promote technological advancements that enhance crop yields while minimizing environmental impact.

The emerging success of Tanzania’s tobacco industry also raises questions about the broader implications for the nation’s agricultural sector. With a proven track record of growth in tobacco production, there is speculation about the potential diversification and expansion of other crops. The government has indicated that it will continue to support and prioritize sectors with growth potential, with an eye on fostering a robust and diversified agricultural economy.

Tanzania’s ascent to become the second-largest tobacco producer in Africa is an indicator to the nation’s commitment to agricultural development and economic growth. The remarkable increase in tobacco production, coupled with the surge in export value, underscores Tanzania’s newfound prominence in the African agricultural landscape. As the nation sets ambitious targets for the future, stakeholders are optimistic about the continued success of Tanzania’s agricultural sector, with potential positive ripple effects on the overall economy.