Full title: The role of the state and foreign capital in agricultural commercialisation: The case of sugarcane outgrowers in Kilombero District, Tanzania
Working Paper 106
Rebecca Smalley, Emmanuel Sulle and Lameck Malale
Since the launch of the Kilimo Kwanza (‘Agriculture First’) slogan in 2009, the Tanzanian government has been part of efforts to inject foreign capital into its country’s agricultural sector. A range of domestic and international players have developed plans to facilitate private acquisition of farmland; increase investment in irrigation and value addition; deepen the penetration of agribusiness; and bring more of Tanzania’s small-scale farmers into commercial agriculture, particularly through outgrower arrangements. The plans include the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor project (SAGCOT), a public–private partnership focused on Tanzania’s south-central region, and Big Results Now, which aims at achieving rapid progress in commercialisation and other agricultural policies in priority crops (Cooksey 2013). Sugar is a target sector.
One of the areas of Tanzania in which development is planned, the Kilombero Valley, already has a nucleus– outgrower sugarcane business. This working paper presents findings from a study of the sugarcane business in Kilombero. We argue that a dramatic but poorly planned expansion of the outgrower sector, combined with farmer services being transferred or reduced, has created wealth but also systemic weaknesses that are linked to falling returns for many outgrowers and a wider problem of land scarcity. The solution to these problems lies with the state, the company and associations of cane growers, as well as sugar industry regulatory institutions.