Tanzania is racing to be East Africa’s rice hub by meeting in totality the regional need for the food crop. The 4th largest producer of rice in Africa and the second-largest in Eastern & Southern Africa, has put in place adequate plans and measures to increase rice production annually, set to reach a tipping point in 2030, with the ability to feed the region and beyond.
According to the Director of the Mechanization Division; Ministry of Agriculture, Eng. Anna Mwangamilo Tanzania has adopted a transformative technology-dependent agricultural system model for rice, which includes mass adoption of improved seeds usage and other tools, including modern irrigation.
Eng. Anna noted the provision of substantial market opportunities for smallholder farmers in the last three years, has led to assured national self-sufficiency and a sizable surplus for export, making rice one of the most significant cash crops in Tanzania.
“In 2021, the rice produced increased to over three million metric tonnes. Implementation of the 2019-2030 National Rice Development Strategy Phase II (NRDS-II), will propel Tanzania to be the regional hub for rice and associated products on or before the close of the decade,” she noted.
Implementation of the strategy by the government and the private sector has enhanced rice production and trade competitiveness. The strategy seeks to increase production to 8.8 million tons by 2030.
Development partners, including Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and others, have also played a role in catalyzing business-driven increased productivity.
Eng. Anna Mwangamilo, appreciated AGRA and USAID’s supported African Rice Initiative in East Africa (CARI-EA), noting that it has set a good precedent for improving the rice value chain and making it more profitable for farmers and other players.
The crop alongside maize is strategic cereal, as per Agricultural Sector Development Programs (ASDP II), which guides AGRA investments in Tanzania.
AGRA in an initiative named Competitive African Rice Initiative in East Africa (CARI-EA) from April 2019 to April 2022 financed by USAID contributed to increasing production and expanding market access for about 150,000 smallholder rice farmers in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.
“In 2021, Tanzania consolidated its position as the leading producer and exporter of rice in East Africa. It means our rice has become more competitive in terms of quality and price than the imports from countries like Pakistan, which were threatening the incomes of smallholder farmers,” notes Mr Vianey Rweyendela, AGRA Tanzania Country Manager.
While the rest of the EAC states import significant rice, Tanzania predominantly produces enough for domestic consumption and significant surplus for export, with minimal rice imports for aroma due to consumer preference. Tanzania Ministry of Agriculture data shows Tanzania mainland exported 441,908 MT of rice in 2021 (valued values Tsh 476.8 billion) and 189,277 MT of maize ( valued Tsh 72.4 billions).
The commercialisation of smallholder farmers in Mbeya, Morogoro, Iringa, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Coast Regions can produce adequate rice to feed Africa with existing potential opportunities.
“Tanzania has a huge rice export potential. All the conditions are ripe, and it’s a question of catalyzing greater commercialisation uptake where Africa would not need to buy rice from outside the continent. The results of the CARI-EA initiative show Tanzania can greatly increase rice exports while fully meeting the domestic needs,” Mr Rweyendela said.
The CARI-EA initiative, implemented by Kilimo Trust, has shown that concerted efforts in the rice sub-sector can increase the competitiveness of locally produced rice. Tanzania has a comparative ecological advantage in rice production and demonstrated a pathway to serve neighboring countries to reduce the net importation of rice.
In the initiative, stakeholders in the private, public and civil society involved in the rice value chain pooled together 12 rice business consortia serving about 150,000 smallholder farmers with a work package on private-led extension, market facilitation, post-harvest reduction, access to finance, with deliberate intervention on women and youth for inclusivity. The program is concentrated in seven regions of Mainland Tanzania (Simiyu, Shinyanga, Morogoro, Mbeya, Iringa, Rukwa and Katavi) and Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba).
The project coordinator at AGRA, Mr Japhet Laizer, said farmers in about twelve rice consortiums were capacitated with business development services that led to increased production and market access.
“The initiative enabled about 82,000 farmers to access loans to improve their rice activities. Over 310,000 MT of paddy was sold through structured markets, and over 20,000 MT of quality agro-inputs-seed and fertilizers were accessed from a monitored private-matching fund,” he noted. He said that out of AGRA’s investment, at least USD 2,000,000 was leveraged from the public and private sectors.
Similarly, he noted that the project supported access to simple improved technologies to enhance rice production. “Simple equipment such as motorized paddy cutter, push weeders, moisture meters, solar pump for borehole, improved seed (SARO 5, Komboka, Arize Gold), pallets, aflatoxin measurement devices, weigh scale, among other items, were procured to enhance quality, productivity and resilience to farming household,” he said.
The creation of consortiums, and access to business development services, inputs and markets, led to increased productivity, commercialisation, profitability and resilience for smallholder rice producers, some adopted irrigation farming. Due to the program market facilitation, most rice millers expanded access to competitive regional markets.
One of the consortiums, Sumbawanga Rice Enterprise Project (SURE), led by One Goal Company Limited, managed to reach out to 9,000 smallholder farmers while creating significant employment to youth and women groups with activities along the value chain. Kishapu Rice Marketing Consortium in Kishapu District in 3 years managed to bring together about 12,000 smallholder farmers, who increased production by over 70 per cent, from 2019 to 2021/2. The processing capacity increased to 40 MT per day.
Busega District and the surrounding areas had the Busega Rice Marketing and Trade (BRM – Busega) consortium. Busega Mazao Limited led it. The firm’s Managing Director Mr Deogratius Kumalija said that the CARI EA project in 2020 enabled them to increase processing from 3 MT to 30 MT per day. “To process at full capacity at 84-metric metro per day, we need more small scale rice farmers to join hands,” he said.
Mr James Balele Chongela, a farmer and chairman of ‘Kila Siku Kazi’ in Sanga village, Busega noted that the consortia encouraged farmers to produce more because of the assured markets. “Adoption of improved seed varieties and greater fertilizer uptake boosted production from the average of 4 bags per acre to 35 bags,” he noted.
Kishapu Rice Marketing Consortium in Kishapu District, Shinyanga region, increased rice exports to Kenya and Uganda. “CARI EA enabled us to work closely with the Kishapu district council and organize about 12,000 smallholder farmers to supply rice to us,” noted Mr Mabela Masolwa, managing Director, Kishapu Food Processor.
Zanzibar Rice Value Chain Enterprise Development (ZENJIRICE) coordinator Mr Yussuf Faki Yussuf noted the project benefited over 15,000 smallholder rice farmers. “CARI EA enabled a concerted business development education outreach, including usage of improved seeds and markets. “We did not make the best harvests in Zanzibar, but the project has helped us lay a foundation for significant improvements. Climate change has been an enormous problem, but irrigation infrastructure has been set up, which assures us of increased production in the coming seasons.
CARI-EA Coastal zone consortia
Villagers in Busega, Simiyu (pictured) involved in rice farming. They are part of Busega Rice Marketing and Trade consortium.
Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. Together with our partners, we catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase incomes and improve food security in 11 countries.
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