The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Tanzania, through the European Union (EU) funded AGRI-CONNECT flagship programme, have launched a national nutrition campaign to develop healthy eating habits in Tanzania based on locally available foods.
The event was graced by Dr. Honest Kessy, Director of National Food Security at the Ministry of Agriculture, on behalf of Hon Hussein Bashe, Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Lamine Diallo, Head of Natural Resources at the European Delegation in Tanzania, and Dr. Nyabenyi Tipo, FAO Representative in Tanzania, and was attended by a diverse group of experts and stakeholders in a blended (physical and online) interactive event at Kisutu Central Market in Dar es Salaam. The first 100 people to arrive at the venue received a free food basket filled with food ingredients from the healthy plate model. In May 2022, a similar national nutrition campaign will be launched in Zanzibar.
“Agriculture and nutrition are two sides of the same coin, and we must improve our respective food systems to meet the nutrition needs of the world’s rapidly growing population,” said Mr. Lamine Diallo, Head of Natural Resources at the European Delegation in Tanzania. “Tanzania can address the high rate of malnutrition in several regions, if takes full advantage of its significant agricultural potentials. We sincerely hope that this campaign, combined with other AGRI-CONNECT activities, will mobilise all partners and contribute to the improvement of people’s health and wealth” he said.
Dr. Nyabenyi Tipo, FAO Representative in Tanzania emphasized that, “As the global pandemic continues, the importance of healthy diets in mitigating its effects has never been more important.” Adding that, “a shift in societal practices regarding food production, consumption, and market access would increase access to food, boost body immunity, and provide smallholder farmers with an income.”
The FAO-led programme titled “Building Resilience of Agri-Food Systems and Better Nutrition in the Context of the Global Pandemic” is the fourth component of the “AGRICONNECT- Supporting Value Chains for Shared Prosperity” project which focuses mainly on nutrition and establishing systems to help absorb pandemic-like shocks to food and market accessibility.
“Reducing malnutrition in Tanzania is a government priority and this campaign comes at the right time as the world grapples to contain the COVID19 pandemic,” said Dr. Honest Kessy, Director of National Food Security at the Ministry of Agriculture. “We have strengthened our nutrition leadership by encouraging more investment in agriculture, food production, and nutrition education to increase the availability and accessibility of healthy diets through improved agricultural productivity and a better understanding of the importance of healthy diets in preventing nutritional disorders and improving body immunity,” he said.
Agriculture and nutrition are two sides of the same coin, and we must improve our respective food systems to meet the nutrition needs of the world’s rapidly growing population
With its Lishe Bora ni Mtaji (Good Nutrition is an Investment) slogan, the national nutrition campaign will include activities such as cooking programs, dala dala (minibus) nutrition education tours, trainings for female youth, and the establishment of msosi asilia (traditional food sites). Over the course of two years, it is expected to reach 32 million people via traditional and social media platforms.
Game changers in agri-food systems transformation
The Tanzanian economy and food systems are dependent on the agriculture sector. Agriculture employs approximately 65 percent of the population and accounts for 28 percent and 51 percent of GDP in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, respectively. Chronic malnutrition as a result of undernutrition is widespread, with more than a quarter of under-five children stunted. Stunting has a devastating impact because, in addition to the risk of death during childhood, it can impair brain development and deter cognitive capacity, resulting in poor school performance.
Undernutrition is prevailing together with increasing cases of overweight and obesity among children and women of reproductive age in both rural and urban areas. Moreover, there is evidence of an increase in the burden of diet-related non communicable diseases. Hidden hunger, characterized by micronutrient deficiency, is not an exception; it is prevalent, particularly among the majority of vulnerable children and women of reproductive age. Tanzania’s food systems must address the triple burden of undernutrition, over nutrition, and hidden hunger, which affects the poor and vulnerable in both rural and urban areas.
The nutrition campaign serves as a call for greater cooperation and solidarity to ensure successful implementation of the Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture Action Plan (NSAAP) and the National Multisectoral Action Plan (NMNAP). The NSAAP, which was funded by the EU, guides stakeholders in the implementation and reporting of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, whereas the NMNAP, which is steered by the Prime Minister’s Officer (PMO) and coordinated by the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC), is a five-year strategy to combat malnutrition by scaling up prevention and management of micronutrient deficiencies and integrated management of acute malnutrition.
The European Union, through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programme (NIP 2014-2020), has committed EUR 547 million to support three main sectors: good governance and development, energy and sustainable agriculture.
For agriculture, EU has allocated a total amount of EUR 130 million to improve the sustainability of and increase the wealth created by the agriculture sector and reduce vulnerability in the context of a changing climate. This is in line with priorities under national and sector development plans and will strengthen EU-Tanzania cooperation in the agriculture sector.
The objectives pursued through the EU funded programmes are:
- to generate agricultural wealth, through linking farmers to markets and value chains;
- to improve food and nutrition security, through improved access, availability, and use of food.
- to enhance management of natural resources, including forests and eco-system services for sustainable agriculture development and climate change adaptation.