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United Republic of Tanzania

Economy, agriculture and food security

The economy is largely based on services and agriculture. In 2014, the gross domestic product (GDP) was US$ 49 184 million (current US$), with an annual growth of 7 percent. It has been constantly more than 5 percent since 2000. Agriculture contributed 31 percent to the GDP in 2014, down from 45 percent 20 years earlier. The sector employs still 67 percent of the active population (WB, 2016) and thus continues to drive the economic growth of the country (MWI, 2009) in spite of the emergence of the new high-growth sectors of mining and tourism.

Despite its importance, agriculture is very affected by unreliable rainfall and periodic droughts (MWI, 2009). Smallholder farming covers over 14 million ha, with an average farm size ranging from 0.2 to 2 ha, while commercial farming is spread over 1.5 million ha for just over 1 000 farms. Agricultural production remains predominantly based on smallholder production, with commercial farming concentrating on cash crops.

The main food crops grown are maize, dry beans, rice, sunflower, cassava, sorghum, groundnuts, sweet potato and coconuts. Maize is the dominant crop with a planted area of over 4 million ha, followed by dry beans with over 1.1 million ha and rice with around 1 million ha.

Traditionally, the country was a net exporter of agricultural products, but it has become a net importer in recent years (FAO, Agwa & IFAD, 2014). The main agricultural products exported are green coffee, tobacco, cashew nuts, cotton, sesame and tea for the 2009-2011 period, while the main agricultural products imported are soybeans, wheat and palm oil.

Prevalence of undernourished people is almost 35 percent in 2014 in Tanzania (FAO, 2015), progressing from 41 percent in the last decade. The country has also some of the highest level of malnutrition, with 42 percent of under-five children suffering from malnutrition.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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