By Haji Msangi and Betty Waized (Sokoine University of Agriculture), Jonas Cromwell, Susannah Sallu, Ruth Smith and Stephen Whitfield (University of Leeds)

August 1, 2023

The agricultural sector in Tanzania is vital to the country's economy, providing employment, income generation, and food security. However, it faces challenges such as climate change, population pressures, and soil degradation, necessitating innovative approaches for sustainable agricultural development. In the Tanga region of Tanzania, there has been a noticeable shift from traditionally important crops to horticultural value chains, offering opportunities for improving nutrition security, income streams, and high-value market access. The FoSTA-Health project will  examine the transformation of agricultural value chains in the Tanga region, focusing on the dynamics and implications of the shift towards export-oriented horticulture. The goal is to understand the governance structures, market engagement, agricultural practices, social relationships, and livelihood dynamics within these value chains.

The project will employ a mixed research approach, including grounded empirical analysis, local expert reviews, surveys, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Initial findings from scoping visits, evidence synthesis, and stakeholder consultations highlight the emerging and declining value chains in Tanga, with a specific emphasis on the transition from traditionally important crops like maize and coffee to high-value horticultural crops. Emerging value chains include fresh fruits (avocados), vegetables (snow peas), and spices (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and black peppers) with an export focus. This shift is driven by factors such as climate change, low maize productivity, diminishing land frontiers, and increased global demand for horticultural products. The transition to horticulture has contributed to the agriculture sector's growth in Tanga and has the potential to transform food systems while enhancing climate resilience. The governance of horticultural production, processing, sale, and trade in Tanga involves a combination of legal rules, public and private market standards, and informal rules and norms.

Public standards set by institutions like the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and the Tropical Pesticides and Research Institute (TPRI) aim to ensure safety and quality of produce. Private standards, established by individual companies or groups, tend to be more stringent in ensuring compliance to certain quality standards. Informal rules and norms also play a significant role, shaping relationships and conduct within the supply chains. While policies and regulations have been set in place and implemented by the responsible government authorities, effective enforcement remains a challenge. Compliance with food safety and quality standards is essential for market access, particularly for emerging export-oriented value chains like avocados and spices. Informal relationships based on trust and long-term trading are common but can also be exploitative. Engaging in export-oriented horticultural value chains presents opportunities and challenges for farmers in Tanga. Access to higher-value markets, increased demand, and potential premium prices contribute to improved livelihoods. Nonetheless, export-oriented production requires adherence to stringent food safety and quality standards, leading to the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Challenges include unhygienic handling (in the form of contaminated production and processing environment) increasing the food safety concerns, inadequate enforcement of rules and regulations, unsafe food (export market rejects) entering domestic markets, and low awareness among local consumers on the potential dangers posed by such foods.

 FoSTA-Health's preliminary findings have identified evidence gaps, including an understanding of the role of informal rules and norms in governing export-oriented commercial production, assessing the effectiveness of governance mechanisms in ensuring compliance with Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and evaluating the transformative impact of engagement in export markets on domestic food systems. Strategies to improve enforcement, hygiene practices, and quality control measures are crucial for resilient and sustainable food systems in Tanga. (For more information, please see this citrus and avocado supply chains map [May, 2023])

The transition from traditional value chains to export-oriented horticultural value chains in the region, thus, holds great potential for sustainable agricultural development, improved livelihoods, and enhanced food security. Sustainable and resilient food systems require working solutions to challenges related to governance structures, market engagement, and agricultural practices within these value chains. 

By bridging these gaps and implementing effective strategies, Tanga can pave the way for resilient and sustainable food systems that benefit both farmers and consumers.

Next Steps for FoSTA-Health: Empirical Analysis of System Dynamics

In the coming months, FoSTA-Health will investigate further and develop an assessment of the opportunities, risks, and challenges associated with the various policy options to do so. This will include stakeholder consultations, which are already underway but will be scaled up through a two-day event in November 2023. Following the consultations, the methodology and research questions will be finalised, and desk and field research will commence. Empirical research  will involve primary data collection from various value chain actors and use the data for grounded empirical analysis. Interviews and focus group discussions with relevant actors and stakeholders at all nodes of the value chains will be conducted to understand the governance structures within the selected value chains, and rewards and risks associated with them. The project will unveil how participation in export-oriented value chains under the prevailing governance structures (formal and informal rules and norms, public and private standards) shape the food safety and quality standards, agricultural practices, price dynamics, and food and nutrition outcomes for different stakeholders.

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