In nine days I will be traveling to Tanzania as an International Reporting Project (IRP) Fellow to cover agriculture, poverty, and hunger. As you may recall I also traveled to Zambia this summer to cover infectious diseases as an IRP fellow. This trip promises to be a eye-opener to me as I rarely concentrate on the subject. Typically, my concentration rests on women and girls, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases. Since so much of Africa depends on agriculture I look forward to uncovering how subsistence farming, agriculture, poverty and hunger affect daily life, particularly that of women and girls.
During our time in Tanzania we will be visiting several programs and sites that deal specifically with poverty and hunger alleviation through agriculture including a Feed the Future and One Acre Fund site.
According to Feed the Future, Tanzania (a country of 42 million) has a 68 percent poverty rate. Agriculture accounts for 25 percent of Tanzania’s GDP. Additionally, and even more importantly, agriculture employs over 75 percent of the population.
Tanzania has recently laid out a framework, the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP), to alleviate poverty and to create sustainable development of the economy. The goals of the framework consist of improving rural infrastructure, irrigation, mechanization, research and development, farm inputs, and increasing renewable natural resources. For example, Tanzania has an irrigation potential of 29.4 million hectares, but only irritates .33 million hectares, an area that statistically needs increased investment and an overhaul of goal setting and national improvements.
The Tanzanian government understands that to reach certain agricultural and economic benchmarks they must invest more of its national budget in the agricultural sector. In 2010 – 2011, only 7.78 percent of the budget was allocated to agriculture. Although the Tanzanian government pays for most agricultural investments there is some foreign direct investment in crop buying, but the investment numbers have been low due to supposed risks in investing in agriculture. While Tanzania is widely encouraging private investment in its agricultural sector, investments have been low. However, development partners including the Government of Japan, the World Bank, Irish Aid, International Fund for Agricultural Development and African Development Bank have pledge $315.5 USD towards improving Tanzania’s agricultural sector. The overall costs of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty implementations, however, total $2.1 billion USD.
I look forward to exploring these issues while in Tanzania. You can follow along here on the blog as well as on Impatient Optimists, Babble, Huffington Post, as well as on our African Global Health and Development digital magazine.
I will be in Tanzania from September 30 – October 9.
Photo: United Nations | Fred Hoy