By 2030, partners of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) aim to cultivate 350,000 hectares of land for profitable production.
- Using the SAGCOT model, Tanzania aims to achieve self-sufficiency in food production to feed Africa by the same year.
- Agriculture in Tanzania currently contributes nearly 30 percent of the country’s GDP and employs over three-quarters of the nation’s workforce.
The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) has achieved significant success over the last decade since its establishment in 2010. Tasked with promoting inclusive, sustainable, and viable agricultural value chains in southern Tanzania, the organization has notably enhanced agricultural productivity.
SAGCOT has established production clusters, including Ihemi, Mbarali, and Kilombero, in southern and Morogoro. Through these agricultural clusters, SAGCOT has successfully increased food production, developed value chains, and elevated household income for farmers.
“I am truly impressed with the work of the SAGCOT Centre Limited and its partners. I strongly feel the sense of responsibility we now bear for scaling up and extending this success. I became aware not only of your achievements and the further potential inherent in the SAGCOT approach but also of the challenges Tanzania faces in gearing up for success in agribusiness, as a central element of ‘industrialization.’
So, this has been highly illuminating for me. We fought hard to get SAGCOT approved, and we will continue to champion you in the future. And look at how we can use other levers to reinforce what you are already achieving,” said Bella Bird, the World Bank Group Country Director for Tanzania, in her review of SAGCOT’s performance.
SAGCOT pursuit of food security
Similar sentiments are echoed by Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, Dr. Charles Tizeba: “As the Minister responsible for Agriculture, I am satisfied with and commend what SAGCOT is doing in the Southern Highlands agricultural corridor. SAGCOT’s plans align with the ministry’s goals in the pursuit of food security. The ‘SAGCOT way’ will be instrumental in implementing the ASDP II.”
Despite these accomplishments, stakeholders believe Tanzania is yet to realize its full agricultural production potential. Tanzania boasts 44 million hectares of arable land, but less than 30 percent of this potential arable land is utilized, remarks Dr. Ferdinand Bayaka, a dairy farmer in the commercial port city of Dar es Salaam.
Dr. Bayaka laments that Tanzania’s agricultural productivity falls short of its potential. Speaking to a government-owned news outlet, the farmer urges policymakers to draw lessons from SAGCOT.
Agriculture contributes almost 30 per cent to Tanzania’s GDP and employs over three-quarters of the workforce.
The US International Trade Administration notes, “Agriculture is undoubtedly the largest and most important sector of the Tanzanian economy, benefiting from a diverse production base that includes livestock, staple food crops, and various cash crops.”
While abundant business opportunities exist across domestic, regional, and international markets for both traditional and new products, productivity has seen modest progress over the past two decades.
Smallholder farmers dominate Tanzania’s agriculture
According to the organization, smallholder farmers, reliant on rainfall for irrigation, dominate agriculture in Tanzania. Modernizing the industry to increase yields, exports, and value-added processing poses significant challenges for farmers and other sector stakeholders.
The organization reports that “slowing export revenues, land acquisition hurdles, and smallholder farmers struggling to access economically viable technology, adequate storage facilities, markets, and credit have affected the sector.”
However, the organization also notes that “the government is taking measures to address these challenges by introducing subsidies to farmers and investors as well as removing unnecessary levies that have been seen to hamper the growth of the sector.”
Furthermore, “the government has sought foreign financing for its flagship project, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), designed to quickly develop that region’s agricultural potential. These wide-reaching efforts should see production levels of key crops return to growth in the coming years, helping boost value-added processing in the sector.”
According to SAGCOT, “By 2030, SAGCOT partners seek to bring 350,000 hectares of land into profitable production, transition 100,000 small-scale farmers into commercial farming, create 420,000 new jobs, lift 20 million people out of poverty, and generate 1.2 billion dollars in annual farming revenue.”
In light of this, Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has called for government commitment to commercialize agriculture as the engine to industrialize the country.
“Let’s work hard to feed Africa by 2030,” the president told parliament recently as she commented on the performance of SAGCOT. The president also called for popularizing the SAGCOT model “in all districts of Tanzania to achieve our vision to feed Africa by 2030.”
“Agricultural stakeholders want the SAGCOT model to be adopted countrywide. I think they are right. This is the time to do so to change the lives of small farmers,” comments Dr. Tasco Luambano, a Lecturer at Mzumbe University.
The president has also launched a nationwide agricultural development initiative for youth called ‘Build a Better Tomorrow (BBT).’ The president now wants the implementers of the BBT program to work together with the SAGCOT center to learn from the latter’s experience with small farmers.
“We used to grow Irish potatoes without paying attention to small but important aspects. We used poor implements. Our harvests were small. Now we are harvesting almost three times the amount we used to harvest,” shared a farmer from one of the clusters in Iringa with the media.
According to the farmer (name withheld), since they started working with SAGCOT, their harvests have increased from seven tonnes per hectare in the 2013/14 season to between 28-50 tonnes in the 2022/2023 fiscal year.
“SAGCOT is ready to work with every district in Tanzania on the proposal because their role is to facilitate its partners to deliver on inclusive, sustainable, and commercial agricultural value chains, especially in the southern corridor,” affirmed SAGCOT CEO, Mr. Geoffrey Kirenga.
Commenting on SAGCOT’s achievement, His Excellency Einar Jensen, the Danish Ambassador to Tanzania, expressed his impressiveness with the progress so far: “What a successful journey it was. I am very impressed by how close the Government and Private sector are, from the regional level to the community level. Well done, SAGCOT.”
“I am truly impressed with the work of the SAGCOT Centre Limited and its partners. I very much feel the sense of responsibility we now hold for scaling up and extending this success. I became aware not only of your achievements and the further potential that lies in the SAGCOT approach but also of the challenges Tanzania faces in gearing up for success in agribusiness, as a central element of ‘industrialization.’
“So this has been highly illuminating for me. We fought hard to get SAGCOT approved, and we will continue to champion you in the future. And look at how we can use other levers to reinforce what you are already achieving,” said Bella Bird, World Bank Group Country Director, Tanzania.
Senior Agricultural Specialist and Team Leader for the World Bank SIP project, Sarah Simons, Ph.D., holds the view that, “The work of the Centre has given us an excellent insight into the breadth, diversity, and potential of the SAGCOT Partners.
“It was striking to see all of the SAGCOT Partners we met were determined to ensure they gave back to their surrounding communities, by creating income-generating opportunities (jobs), facilitating access to markets by smallholder farmers, and supporting the livelihoods of their immediate neighbors through the establishment of training programs and clinics, etc.
“It is now abundantly clear that SAGCOT Centre now commands respect, which is due in no small part to the calm, intelligent, and inclusive approach that has been pursued in the corridor, from the outset.
“Please keep up the excellent work that you and the entire team at the SAGCOT Centre are doing. There is no question we were impressed by what we saw, and look forward to strengthening the SAGCOT partnership in the coming months and years.”