APRA blog

Diversification and food security in crop-livestock farming systems of Singida Region, Tanzania
May 25, 2022

Diversification is a key strategy for coping with risks associated with climate change and variability among households in Africa’s semi-arid areas. The extent of diversification varies across households, but the crop and livestock enterprises undertaken comprise of at least one crop and one livestock species. As found in a recent APRA study, the nature of crop-livestock diversification in the farming systems of the semi-arid Singida Region, central Tanzania, has varying impacts for farmer food security. The research saught to answer the following policy-relevant questions: (i) How important is diversification in the crop-livestock farming systems of the Singida Region? (ii) What are the prominent crops and livestock species diversified by households in these farming systems? (ii) What is the degree of risk associated with different crop-livestock portfolios? (iii) How does crop-livestock diversification affect food security?

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Women and youth in rice and sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania: Inclusiveness, returns on household labour and poverty reduction
April 14, 2022

Over the last two decades, the Government of Tanzania, in collaboration with development agencies, has been supporting rice and sunflower commercialisation to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty among actors in these value chains. At the same time, the support has aimed to ensure sustainable commercialisation and involvement of women and youth in the commercialisation process. Despite these efforts, women and youths’ involvement in the rice and sunflower commercialisation process is constrained – likely because of a lack of land and financial capital. Land access problems among women and youth in Tanzania are, for instance, largely the result of cultural restrictions on the ownership of ancestral land. Regarding financial capital, women and youth cannot access loans from commercial banks because of their low ownership of assets used by banks as collateral. This blog reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 30, APRA Working Paper 59 and APRA Brief 33, which seek to understand the reality of women and youth’s involvement in these value chains.

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Drawing lessons and policy messages from APRA research in Tanzania
February 17, 2022

With a goal to share feedback on their research process and the outcomes of their studies in terms of publications, policy messages, and policy engagements, APRA Tanzania researchers gathered members of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office in Tanzania on 2 December, 2021. This blog shares the presentations, discussions and lessons emerging from this feedback session, which took place virtually and included APRA researchers based at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Nairobi-based Dr Hanington Odame, and Mr Alex Mangowi, representing the FCDO office in Tanzania.

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Assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on food systems and livelihoods in Mngeta division, Tanzania
February 8, 2022

Since the onset of COVID-19, which was first announce in Tanzania early in March 2020, consecutive waves of the pandemic have resulted in a series of health, social and economic impacts. This was revealed in A Multi-Phase Assessment of The Effects of COVID-19 on Food Systems and Rural Livelihoods in Tanzania, which was based on data collected from farmers in Mngeta division in Kilombero District to gain knowledge on the real time impact of the pandemic on that rural community. The data were collected from 100 farmers at three intervals; July 2020, October 2020 and February 2021. Key informants including rice processors, village executive officer, traders and extension officers were also interviewed.

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Agrarian change and rural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa: Emerging challenges and regional realities
January 27, 2022

On 20 January 2022, an e-dialogue was convened to analyse the dynamics of agricultural commercialisation and agrarian change across East, West, and Southern Africa. The programme began with participants engaging in three parallel regional presentations and discussions, and culminated in a continental-level panel involving expert commentators and audience questions.

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Stakeholders’ take on inclusive agricultural value chains in Tanzania: Feedback from a national workshop
November 22, 2021

The Tanzanian government, in its efforts to provide food, income, employment and foreign income to its population, is committed to improving the country’s rice and sunflower value chains. This commitment was reiterated at a national feedback workshop held on 26th October, 2021 at the Institute of Rural Development Planning in Dodoma. The workshop was organised by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) in its efforts to share key messages from its five-year-long studies on the most effective pathways to agricultural commercialisation for women empowerment, reduction of rural poverty and improvement of nutrition and food security.

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Agricultural commercialisation in Africa, COVID-19 and social difference
November 15, 2021

African policymaking has turned to agricultural commercialisation as an engine of growth in the 21st century. But the effects have not been the same for everyone, entrenching long-term social difference based on gender, wealth, age and generation, ethnicity and citizenship. Social differentiation within commercial agriculture is shaped by power dynamics and the distribution of benefits between elites, and their relationship with the formal and informal institutions that underpin political systems. This idea of a ‘political settlement’ in the way that power is exercised between groups, often to avoid conflict or to give preferential access to a specific resource, gives different groups of people different standing within agricultural value chains. COVID-19 as a type of shock also shapes political settlements and the resilience of different actors in their response to the pandemic. It can also reinforce pre-existing trends in social differentiation. APRA’s research showed how this has happened across Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, and APRA Working Paper 69 presents the research findings.

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The role of small-scale processors in supporting agricultural commercialisation among smallholder rice farmers in East Africa: Lessons from Ethiopia and Tanzania
November 10, 2021

Until recently, attention to upgrading the rice value chain has been limited in many of Eastern Africa’s rice-producing countries. Yet, it is this mid-stream section (the millers and traders) – the so-called ‘hidden middle’ – which is essential to sustaining rice value chains’ capacity to contribute to food security in the region, as it fulfils a crucial intermediary role between supply and demand. This blog reflects on the findings of APRA Working Paper 74, which presents the characteristics and role of rice processors as key actors in rice sector development in East Africa as well as what challenges and opportunities they face, drawing on primary data generated from surveys and key informant interviews in Ethiopia and Tanzania.

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Precarious prospects? Agricultural commercialisation and climate change in semi-arid Tanzania
October 29, 2021

Commercialisation has long been considered a path out of poverty for farmers across Africa, as elsewhere in the global South; it is also increasingly seen as a means to strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate change. A study carried out in the semi-arid Singida Region, central Tanzania, asked how farm-level decisions affect current, as well as future, resilience to climate change. Findings reinforce that farmers are vulnerable to climate change but also have tremendous capacity. However, to be able to adapt and thrive, farmers need to be supported globally, as well as in Tanzania, which provides clear messages ahead of the forthcoming COP26.

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Commercialisation of quality seeds could enhance rice yields in Tanzania
October 25, 2021

Research finds that the productivity of Tanzania’s rice sector could improve due to commercialisation of new varieties.This blog comes against a backdrop of studies, programmes, interventions, and activities by the public and private sectors which work towards commercialisation of rice, among other crops. To contribute to these efforts, the Rice Council of Tanzania (RCT), in collaboration with Rural Urban Development Initiatives and Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), organised a workshop to deliberate on strategies to accelerate commercialisation of new rice varieties which have been released for multiplication and dissemination.

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Monocrop or diversified enterprise portfolio? Lessons for inclusive commercialisation from Singida Region, Tanzania
October 6, 2021

Many people have attributed the Singida Region in Tanzania’s rapid development during the last twenty years to the evolution of the sunflower value chain. The successes of this value chain’ development include increased oilseed production, expanding processing capacity and declining rural poverty. Singida Town, the headquarters of Singida Region, has transformed from a small sleepy town into a vibrant city, and many neighbouring villages, such as Iguguno, have been transformed into semi-urban centres as a result of agrarian accumulation from surrounding villages. However, a focused analysis of quantitative data and qualitative narratives reveal there is more to the development of Singida Region than sunflower. This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 67, which show that the combined effect of accumulation from sunflower and other enterprises, including livestock, account for the observed improvement in livelihoods, contributing to household economic diversity that is projected to be more inclusive and sustainable.

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Holistic adoption of System of Rice Intensification can increase yields: A case of Mngeta, Kilombero District, Tanzania
September 27, 2021

This blog highlights the findings of APRA Working Paper 66, which discusses the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) interventions and their potential effects on paddy yield and commercialisation in Kilombero district, Tanzania. The study compared the adoption of SRI interventions and paddy productivity for trained and non-trained farmers, and compared these attributes for farmers who belonged to SRI associations and those who did not. The study evaluated SRI practices in terms of rice yields.

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Does livestock enhance or reduce crop commercialisation? A case of Singida in Central Tanzania
September 22, 2021

Livestock is an important component of mixed crop-livestock farming systems in Singida Region in Tanzania, contributing to household income, and reducing poverty in the region. The use of ox-plough to perform farm operations, such as ploughing, and the application of livestock manure are just some ways in which livestock can enhance crop commercialisation. However, livestock production can also reduce the need to expand crop production if livestock earns a farmer higher income, hence inhibiting crop commercialisation in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. This blog explains the differences in commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories, as found in APRA Working Paper 65.

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APRA features at the Second Scientific Conference held at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania
September 16, 2021

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) participated in a scientific conference at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania from 24th May–27th May 2021. Themed ‘Agricultural Technologies, Productivity and Market Competitiveness in Tanzania: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy’, the conference provided a platform for scholars to interact and exchange knowledge on the application of science, innovation, and technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation. This blog highlights APRA Tanzania researchers’ contributions to the conference.

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Influence of rice commercialisation on poverty reduction levels in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
September 9, 2021

The commercialisation of smallholder agriculture has been considered a key strategy for sustainably reducing poverty and achieving equitable growth across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, linking farmers to markets is pursued as an important strategy towards commercialisation and agricultural transformation under the National Development Programme and current Five-year Development Plan for the period 2016 – 2021 and the national vision up to 2025. This blog examines changes in rice commercialisation and poverty levels of different farmer categories that have occurred between 2017 and 2019, as presented in APRA Working Paper 63, based on the findings from Mngeta division, Kilombero Valley in Morogoro region, Tanzania, where rice is the most important food and cash crop.

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Does sunflower commercialisation empower women in Singida, Tanzania?
August 26, 2021

This blog explores the findings of APRA Working Paper 59, which investigates the influence of sunflower commercialisation and diversity on women empowerment in Singida region, Tanzania. This study assesses the assumption that women engagement along Tanzania’s sunflower value chain empowers them socially, economically, and politically, and its contribution to their sense of individuality, self-respect, and confidence.

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Positioning Tanzania in the regional market for rice: Lessons from the East Africa Rice Conference
August 5, 2021

As part of the 2021 East African Rice Conference (EARC), national workshops were held in six African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. EARC aimed to identify policy reforms to transform Africa’s rice sector through scientific innovations, and the national events provided an opportunity to assess such opportunities in each of the six countries, individually. In this blog, the fifth in our series on these national workshops, we reflect on the Tanzanian event.

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Environmental impacts of commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
August 2, 2021

In Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, rice is increasingly becoming a commercial crop. However, although research findings show that commercial rice production is beneficial, it is also associated with increasing use of modern implements, such as tractors, and use of agrochemicals, such as herbicides. This blog, based on APRA Working Papers 30 and 37, highlights the potential environmental impacts of rice commercialisation in the region, and recommends actions that could be taken to mitigate these impacts.

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Political economy of agricultural input subsidies in Tanzania: Who benefitted from the National Input Voucher Scheme?
May 13, 2021

This blog explores the programmes implemented in Tanzania to promote rice commercialisation since the country’s independence in 1961, as found in the course of a recent APRA study for Working Paper 57, as well as their impact on different socio-economic groups. Specifically, this blog is about agricultural input subsidy programmes implemented since 1967 to support smallholder farmers as part of the ujamaa (“socialism”) model of economic development. It focuses on the National Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), the biggest agricultural input subsidy programme implemented in Tanzania.

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Political economy of rice commercialisation in Tanzania: Socioeconomic impact of trade policies, strategies and programmes
April 29, 2021

This blog summarises the findings of APRA Working Paper 57, as the authors discuss the policies, strategies and programmes implemented since Tanzania’s independence in 1961 to promote rice commercialisation and reduce poverty and food insecurity among smallholder rice farmers, and their impact on different socio-economic groups based on findings from literature review and key informant interviews.

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Sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania: Everybody benefits but with social difference
March 18, 2021

In this blog, based on research shown in the newly published APRA Working Paper 49, the authors explore the social impacts of sunflower commercialisation in Tanzania. They highlight the key findings from their research, and outline changing livelihoods are affecting different actors in the sunflower value chain. They then offer policy advice to the government and development partners on the most sustainable way forward.

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Emerging dynamics as result of COVID-19 in Mngeta Division in Morogoro, Tanzania
March 1, 2021

This blog uses data from recent APRA surveys to examine the changing situation among farmers resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The authors look at how the farmers are responding to such changes, how their livelihoods have altered, and what the government and development partners can do to help.

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Rice value chain: has life returned to normal after lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Tanzania? (2)
December 10, 2020

In part two of this blog series, APRA Tanzania researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface use data from follow-up interviews with raw rice traders and the hospitality business in Morogoro and Mbeye regions, before drawing a conclusion on the way forward. For the first blog on their interviews with farmers, processors and input… Read more »

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Rice value chain: has life returned to normal after lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Tanzania? (1)
November 30, 2020

In the first of a two part blog series, researchers from APRA Tanzania follow up on their earlier blog series on the COVID-19 coping strategies of rice value chain actors. In this blog, they use data from follow-up interviews with farmers, processors & input suppliers in Morogoro and Mbeya regions to determine what difference there… Read more »

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Aida Isinika: reflections on the eDialogue
November 12, 2020

In the first of a four-part blog series,  – Aida Isinika, APRA Tanzania Country Lead and Professor, Sokoine University of Agriculture, shares her experience of the third UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Foresight4Food, IFAD & APRA eDialogue session, all about African regional perspectives on the future for small-scale farming. Click below for links to eDialogue… Read more »

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What role does the hand hoe have in rice production in Morogoro, Tanzania?
September 3, 2020

Basic hand hoes have always played a key part in rice production in Morogoro, Tanzania – but as ox-ploughs and tractors become more widely used, is there still a place for the traditional farm implement? Using information from a recent study, APRA Tanzania researchers discover that factors such as geography play a role in determining… Read more »

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How COVID-19 has affected Liliyan’s Catering Services in Morogoro, Tanzania
August 24, 2020

In our latest blog, APRA researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface examine the negative effect of the pandemic on Liliyan’s Catering Services Enterprise, and how it is bouncing back and coping with the financial hit. The researchers then provide recommendations to policy makers on how they can ensure that small businesses like this… Read more »

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COVID-19: Coping strategies of rice value chain actors in Tanzania (2)
July 23, 2020

In the second of a two-part mini-series, APRA researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface examine how actors in the rice value chain in Tanzania have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures that were introduced to contain it. Part two focuses on rice processors, farmers, input suppliers and service providers in… Read more »

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COVID-19: Coping strategies of rice value chain actors in Tanzania (1)
July 20, 2020

Actors in the rice value chain in Tanzania have been hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic and the measures implemented by the government to contain it. In the first of a two blog mini-series, APRA researchers Ntengua Mdoe, Gilead Mlay and Gideon Boniface look at the measures in closer detail, and examine how badly consumers and… Read more »

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How SRI technology and irrigation has transformed Anita’s life
April 23, 2020

This blog is closely linked to Working Paper 30: Does Rice Commercialisation Impact on Livelihood? Experience from Mngeta in Kilombero District, Tanzania. Access it, for free, here. This blog was written by Aida Isinika and Ntengua Mdoe Anita’s personal story “SRI changed my life, now I see a brighter future ahead for me and my… Read more »

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Mobile money services and rice commercialisation in Tanzania
April 9, 2020

Please note: During this time of uncertainty caused by the #COVID19 pandemic, as for many at this time, some of our APRA work may well be affected in coming weeks but we aim to continue to post regular blogs and news updates on agricultural policy and research. Written by Aida Isinika & Ntengua Mdoe Agricultural… Read more »

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Njage Farmers preparing to take rice commercialisation to the next level
March 30, 2020

Please note: During this time of uncertainty caused by the #COVID19 pandemic, as for many at this time, some of our APRA work may well be affected in coming weeks but we aim to continue to post regular blogs and news updates on #agricultural #policy and #research. This is a tale of rice farmers in… Read more »

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The challenge of getting to Lukilikila village
March 18, 2020

Luvilikila village is located within Mngeta division in Kilombero district, about 80km from Ifakala town, the district headquarters and just 13km south of Kilombero Plantation limited (KPL) – a large scale rice farm within Mngeta division. The Kilombero Ramsar site, a protected wetland lies to the south.  Luvilikila village is one among ten villages participating… Read more »

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Herbicides: opportunities and challenges for commercial rice production in Kilombero Valley
March 12, 2020

Herbicide application for rice production has risen to a new level, not only in Mngeta division but in the entire Kilombero valley, and is favoured by farmers as it replaces some manual and backbreaking farm implements, such as the hand hoe.  In 2017 when the first wave of data collection under work stream one (WS1)… Read more »

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Tanzania makes substantial progress towards meeting CAADP commitments
March 5, 2020

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is an initiative of the African Union (AU) within the context of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The CAADP provides a framework for African countries to achieve economic growth and food security through the transformation of the agricultural sector. It reflects the commitment of African leaders… Read more »

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Top Tips from APRA’s Policy friends
January 16, 2020

During APRA’s recent annual meeting in Naivasha from 2-6 December 2019, a panel of distinguished policy voices made up of representatives from Department for International Development (DFID), African Union (AU), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tegemeo Institute, Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF), and independent consultants shared their perspectives and offered advice on how to guarantee… Read more »

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APRA Annual Workshop 2019 hosted by CABE
December 19, 2019

The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) successfully hosted the APRA Annual Review and Planning Workshop in Naivasha, Kenya from 2-6 December 2019. Members of the three APRA work streams and APRA Consortium, stationed at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), also participated. The theme of this year’s workshop was Impact, Communications and Engagement (ICE).  It… Read more »

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Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation – Tanzania Country Study
April 18, 2019

With many African young people living in rural areas, their economies are characterised by small manufacturers and high rates of youth unemployment. Unemployment has been a major concern especially for graduates who seek formal employment in the urban areas. However, realities support the proposition that only the rural economy – built around agriculture, but encompassing… Read more »

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Corridors Mini-Series: Accumulation and Contested Commercialisation in Tanzania
February 13, 2019

Tanzania, like many other African countries, needs significant investment in agriculture to achieve key development goals – poverty alleviation, economic growth and industrialisation, food security and improved nutrition. Since the late 2000s, the Tanzanian government, in partnership with donor agencies and the private sector, launched several initiatives, including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania… Read more »

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Corridors Mini-Series: The Political Economy of Agricultural Growth Corridors in Eastern Africa
February 11, 2019

A new wave of agricultural commercialisation is being promoted across Africa’s eastern seaboard, by a broad range of influential actors – from international corporations to domestic political and business elites. Growth corridors, linking infrastructure development, mining and agriculture for export, are central to this, and are generating a new spatial politics as formerly remote borders… Read more »

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Isene Village, Tanzania: A Story of Sunflowers and Empowerment
November 12, 2018

It is often the case that when crops or enterprises become commercialised, women lose out as men step in and take control of resources as well as selling produce. Unless such practices are addressed, emerging opportunities for female empowerment will almost always be taken over by men, even if women were the initial beneficiaries of… Read more »

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Rural electrification in Tanzania
July 4, 2018

Until recently, the quality of rice milling in Mngeta division, Tanzania was very poor, equating to extremely low shares of revenue for farmers selling rice in the local market. Traders often bought paddy directly at the farm gate, to be sold to – and later milled in – urban centers in Ifakara town, Morogoro, Dar-es-Salaam… Read more »

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