Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Agriculture Sustainability, Inclusive Growth, and Development Assistance: Insights from Tanzania

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Agriculture Sustainability, Inclusive Growth, and Development Assistance: Insights from Tanzania

Article excerpt


Aid for agriculture development in sub Saharan Africa has increased in recent years, but little is known about which farmers are participating in the interventions, the production structures employed, and the foreseeable consequence on food security and agricultural development. This research draws insights from two projects in Tanzania funded by the United States under its Feed the Future initiative. The research examined the categories of farmers participating, production structure employed, and the implications for sustainable and inclusive food security and agricultural development. The research reveals that significant results of sustainable production can be found at individual level, but only a limited number of farmers with endowment of suitable land with access to water, and credit and some level of organization are participating. The UN rapporteur on the Right to Food has called for increasing food production where the poor and hungry live; we argue that current investment approaches oriented to increasing production, fail to adequately address the local specificity of hunger. As a result, substantial increases in aid inflows over the recent years may have limited effect on reducing the numbers of the hungry. The challenge to stakeholders is to spread the technologies to many more smallholder producers, particularly targeting the poor more precisely.

Keywords: agriculture, development, inclusive, sustainability, Tanzania

1. Introduction

Concerns about insufficient progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, especially in sub Saharan Africa, have prompted a renewed interest in the agriculture sector. And in the aftermath of the 2007 and 2008 sharp rise in food prices, a number of global initiatives emerged seeking to bolster agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa. These include, for example, the G8 L'Aquila Food Security Initiative, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, and the World Bank's Global Food Crisis Response Program. Funding has also come from philanthropic donors (such as the Gates Foundation) and private sector companies under frameworks such as the Grow Africa, and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

With increased funding, two main criteria are identified as particularly important for an agricultural-led (based) development: inclusive investments in the sense of involving the majority smallholders, and sustainability (Djurfeldt, 2012; Diao, Hazell, & Thurlow, 2010; World Bank, 2007). The former is borne out of a large literature showing strong linkages and poverty reduction effects of growth in the smallholder agriculture sector (De Janvry & Sadoulet, 2009; Diao, Hazell, & Thurlow, 2010), while the latter, is in response to the challenges faced by the agriculture sector, including in particular ecological and economic sustainability, and adapting to climate change (Montpellier Panel, 2013; World Bank, 2007). Indeed, several recent studies, for instance Pretty, Camilla, & Stella (2011) and Godfray et al. (2010) have reaffirmed the goal of current agriculture development as not just to maximize productivity, but to optimize it over environmental, socio-equity and economic outcomes.

However, in the context of recent agriculture development initiatives, although most commit, at least in general terms, to target smallholder farmers, little is known thus far about who is participating and the production structures in respect to the environment and socio-economic sustainability. Who is participating is particularly important because some assessment of aid to agriculture in developing countries (Riddell, 2007; IEG, 2007), and more recently, shift in direction of agrarian change towards commercial and large-scale agriculture (Djurfeldt, 2013; Deininger et al., 2010), suggest that participation is likely to be available to only a few producers well-endowed to quickly 'step up' to formal markets. This is of particular concern in the case of sub-Saharan Africa when contrasted with the fact that nearly 27 percent of the population is classified as hungry (FAO, 2012) despite considerable growth in agriculture and in national economies over the last decade. …

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