Tanzania is pursuing bioenergy development as a means to enhance energy security. Tanzania is in the process of developing a comprehensive biofuels policy, and has established a National Biofuel Taskforce with the mandate of developing a National Biofuel Policy. While the Policy is still under development, the Task Force developed Biofuel Guidelines (which only require Cabinet approval) which outline the institutional framework, application procedures, and sustainability issues to be considered for all bioenergy investments.

Tanzania has participated in and adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) framework to help increase synergies in targeted activities to promote agricultural growth.  The Tanzanian investment plan under CAADP includes improvement of rural infrastructure, irrigation, agro-processing and value addition, capacity building, smallholder financing, and a focus on public private partnerships.  Bioenergy could serve to meet the goals outlined within the four pillars of the CAADP framework, through access to new investment finance and diversified markets. 


Agriculture is mostly rain-fed crop production. There is much underutilized land and most farmers operate small-scale plots of 0.2-2 hectares. Only 22 percent of agriculture in Tanzania is commercial, with subsistence agriculture accounting for approximately 85 percent of the arable land.

Eighty-one percent of those living below the poverty line are in households where the main activity of the head of the household is agriculture. The government is now considering agricultural growth the fastest way to reduce poverty. A key constraint is the lack of irrigation with only 3.5% of cropland being irrigated.

Over the last ten years domestic energy demand has grown rapidly due to both the increase in economic activity and population growth. Access to energy is extremely limited and over 90 percent of total energy still comes from traditional biomass such as charcoal and firewood. The country has good geographic and climatic conditions for growing a wide range of bioenergy feedstocks. 


The BEFS Analytical Framework has been applied in Tanzania in two stages, from 2008 to 2012.  The key findings included the following elements:

  • Biomass Potential:  Based on agro-ecological zoning, the suitability of the following crops was analyzed: sugar cane, sweet sorghum, and cassava for ethanol production; and palm oil and sunflower for biodiesel. The results of this analysis illustrated high land suitability for sunflower and cassava production, especially when applying conservation agriculture practices.  
  • Biofuel Chain Production Costs:  This analysis included an assessment of the production costs of various bioenergy pathways, with an emphasis on production pathways where smallholders are considered an integral part of the value chain.  The production costs of five potential feedstocks were assessed: jatropha, cassava, sugarcane (juice and molasses), oil palm and sunflower.  The analysis includes an assessment of the technology in the country and then defined a set of suitable pathways and country based scenarios that include industrial set up, plant scale, and feedstock origin. The results of the analysis indicate that existing technology capacity in Tanzania is weak and new investment is required to build capacity. The analysis also indicates that cassava based ethanol from smallholders could be competitively produced. This would require investment in productivity and formation of small scale cassava producer associations. The land suitability analysis has shown a high suitability for sunflower. In addition,  adequate processing technology was found to be available and affordable in Tanzania. However, according to the production cost analysis sunflower is currently not a viable feedstock for biodiesel production. This is primarily due to the combination of high feedstock production costs and current diesel and edible oil prices. The analysis has also shown that sunflower production for the edible oil market, with power generation from sunflower husks (both for the plant and for the local grid) could be viable.  This illustrates how diversifying production, by planting crops with diverse markets (food, fuel, feed) and using all available co-products can provide a more stable income for rural communities and improve energy access.  
  • Water Availability Associated with Bioenergy Development: The Wami River Basin is one of the areas in Tanzania considered to have high potential for irrigated agriculture. Land concessions for biofuel development are also being considered and approved in the basin. The analysis indicates that even in the absence of bioenergy development, water resources are stressed in the Wami River Basin.  The analysis also illustrates how the Water Evaluation and Planning system can be useful in water resource management and planning.  
  • Economy wide effects: This section assessed the potential impact of  bioenergy production on economic growth, agriculture sector growth, poverty, and labour considering a range of feedstock origins, scales of production  and intensification versus extensification. The analysis indicated that overall, bioenergy would lead to economic growth, new employment opportunities, and would not have a negative impact on food security, leading to welfare gains throughout.
  • Household food security:  The analysis is based on the National Panel Survey of Tanzania for 2008/2009, a  country representative dataset, and investigates the impacts of increasing maize and cassava prices, the two main food crops. The analysis indicates that the urban poor and rural female headed households are the most vulnerable to increases in the price of maize. Poor households in rural areas, poor land owners in rural areas and male headed households in rural areas can benefit from the price increases. Overall, households are not particularly vulnerable to cassava price changes. It is recommended that fluctuations in the prices of the key food staples, and most importantly in the price of maize, should be closely monitored.  



BEFS II Final Consultation, March 22nd 2012
Following the completion of draft analysis on production costs of biodiesel from sunflower; water availability in the Wami River Basin; and household level food security impacts FAO organized a one day workshop on March 22nd,in Dar Es Salaam, with key stakeholders to discuss the results and implications for bioenergy policy-making.  The event included presentations from local consultants and discussions with experts and government officials involved in bioenergy development. The Ministry of Energy and Minerals provided an update on the current bioenergy policy formulation and the way that they have relied on and incorporated the BEFS analysis to date. FAO also took the opportunity to present the results of the BEFSCI project to facilitate discussion of how the BEFS analysis and BEFSCI tools, guidance, and case studies could contribute to energy and food security in Tanzania.

BEFS/BEFSCI Training Workshop, May 2011
A series of awareness raising, training and capacity development activities were undertaken to facilitate mainstreaming of technical analysis on bioenergy and food security in the ongoing policy development process. The activities conducted helped to strengthen and support the policy dialogue and have provided a neutral forum for stakeholders to openly discuss the implications of food security and poverty reduction. More importantly a central topic during the discussions was considering how the BEFS results and BEFSCI tools could be integrated in the ongoing policy development process.

BEFS I Final Consultation, May 20th 2010
The  final consultation of the first stage of the BEFS analysis was held in Dar es Salam. The objectives of the consultation were to bring together FAO and the BEFS Tanzania partner organizations, as well as knowledgeable experts from the Tanzanian bioenergy sector, to:


last updated:  Wednesday, April 2, 2014