Ending rural hunger: the case of Tanzania

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Ending hunger is an ambition formally enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adopted by all 193 member countries of the United Nations. This report looks at Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2), which focuses on ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. Specifically, the report focuses on the rural population in mainland Tanzania, which accounts for 70 percent of the total population, 75 percent of the undernourished, and 80 percent of the hungry people in Tanzania. The goal to end rural hunger is truly about promoting transformational change in local food and agricultural systems, food distribution, quality and quantity of food produced, as well as sustainable consumption (Kharas et al., 2015). Success will not come easily, but there has already been some progress as the government is making some commitment of resources in agriculture like increasing the use of imputes such as fertilizer by reducing price fluctuations through fertilizer bulk purchase program. To achieve the SDG2 targets, policymakers must shift away from erratic political attention and inadequate measurement of the relevant issues such as: access to food; quality of food in terms of protein, micronutrients, and vitamin content; access to finance; access to land for crop production; access to water; and access to agriculture input markets for a sustained, strategic, and evidence-based commitment to food and nutrition security (FNS). This shift requires a systematic and quantitative assessment of countries’ progress towards achieving FNS (which includes addressing food access, malnutrition levels, and the agriculture productivity gap), and an assessment on how well countries put relevant strategies (policies) and adequate investments (resources) in place. In Tanzania, access to food, nutritional needs, the agricultural productivity gap, and vulnerability to environmental shocks are among the top threats to FNS, especially in rural areas. Based on National Panel Set dataset wave 3, a significant proportion of the Tanzanian population suffers from undernourishment, low average dietary energy intake, and poverty. The urban-rural difference is stark as rural areas fare much worse: Undernourishment (29.5 percent versus 39.3 percent), low average dietary energy (31.1 percent versus 33.9 percent1 ), and poverty (8.5 percent versus 26.7 percent) are relatively higher in rural areas (NBS, 2014). Equally important, 1 The figure is measured as a percentage of population having that problem in urban and rural areas. ii access to food and a lack of nutritional awareness are major obstacles facing the country, as they lead to the intake of an unbalanced diet. As a result, high rates of malnutrition are observed in the population, especially among children under five, leading the country to have above-average malnutrition rates compared to other countries in the region (NBS, 2014). The country strategy to achieve SDG2 is embedded in various national policies, development plans, and strategies. Specifically, Tanzania has initiated the following strategies: the Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP I & II, 2006-2020); the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP); the Tanzania Food Security Investment Plan (TAFSIP); Big Results Now (BRN); the Tanzania Development Vision (TDV 2025) embedded under Tanzania’s five-year development plans (FYDP: FYDP I; FYDP II 2016-2020 (nurturing and industrial economy) and FYDP III-2021/22-2025/26 (realizing competitiveness-led export growth); the CCM2 Manifesto; and the National Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP) 2016-2021. Achieving SDG2 not only requires implementing relevant strategies but also adequate and sustainable funding. Many of the agriculture sector development programs in Tanzania are not allocated sufficient funds and rely heavily on donor funding. For example, in the past 10 years, less than 8 percent3 of the national budget was invested in the sector, and out of the invested funds 40 percent were government contributions and 60 percent donor funding (CARE, 2015). Inadequate funding to the sector affects transfer of technology, improvement of infrastructure, supply of inputs, and access to capital and markets, which in turn discourages production—hence hindering efforts to eradicate hunger by 2030. Furthermore, donor-funded programs, especially those outside of budget support, are often period specific and sometimes lack exit strategies (URT, 2016). To hurdle the effect of low funding, achieve SDG2 and eventually improve the state of FNS in Tanzania, four priority areas needs to be observed closely and deliberate efforts made to them: First, increase access to food through (a) improving food distribution by investing in improving road networks (both rural and feeder roads); (b) providing education on food utilization and quality through campaigns that emphasize in the importance of the inclusion of the different food groups, especially for pregnant women and children; (c) increasing social marketing campaign aimed at farmers on the importance of soil nutrition and growing different food groups and bio-fortified crops to ensure a healthy diet; and (d) creating a social marketing campaign aimed at small-scale food 2 CCM stands for Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the ruling party. 3 The figure presents the percentage of the national budget including donor funds channeled through budget funding. iii processors on food fortification to improve food nutritional quality. Second, reduce vulnerability to environmental shocks in rural areas by increasing the capacity of small-holder farmers to exploit the vast irrigation potential available in the country by constructing shared irrigation schemes. Third, build the productive capacity of the agriculture sector to sustainably address and maintain long-term food security. And, finally, enhance the budget allocated to the agriculture sector.