FAO in Tanzania

Tanzania at a glance

The United Republic of Tanzania was formed in 1964 as a union of mainland Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) and the Zanzibar Islands (Unguja and Pemba). The country has an abundance of natural and mineral resources, as well as a variety of agro-climatic regions. Tanzania has a population of 61,741,120 people, according to the 2022 national census, with a 3.2 percent annual population growth rate. Tanzania experienced an average economic growth of 7 percent over the past decade, well above the 6 percent average for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and East African Community (EAC) members and the four percent global average. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a rate of 4.90 percent in 2021, up from 4.8 percent in 2020.

In 2021, the country’s Human Development Index (HDI) score was 0.549, ranking it 157th out of 191 countries, placing the country in the low human development category. Between 1990 and 2021, Tanzania's HDI increased by 49.1 percent, rising from 0.368 to 0.549. Despite this progress, poverty and malnutrition remain severe and widespread, particularly in rural areas, where more than 80 percent of the population lives. Agriculture accounts for approximately 28 percent of Tanzania's GDP and provides employment the majority of the country's population. 

Smallholder farmers, who make up the majority of the agricultural workforce, rely on rain-fed agriculture, have limited access to improved seeds and fertilisers, and cultivate only a fraction of the available arable land. Agro-businesses can take advantage of opportunities in domestic, regional, and international markets for both traditional and new products.

Tanzania has an abundance of forest resources, which cover 48.1 million hectares, or 55 percent of mainland Tanzania's total surface land area, and include woodlands, catchment forests, mangroves, coastal forests, and government forest plantations. However, the rate of deforestation is high due to the demand for firewood, which is a major source of energy in most households, as well as land clearance for farming and industrial purposes. Tanzania has the third largest livestock population in Africa, the second largest after Ethiopia.

According to the National Sample Census of Agriculture 2019/20, Tanzania has 33.9 million cattle, 24.5 million goats, 8.5 million sheep, and 87.7 million poultry.  In addition, the Economic Survey Report of 2020 indicates that the livestock sector accounts for 27 percent of the agricultural sector's contribution to the GDP, with beef accounting for 40 percent, dairy accounting for 30 percent, and other livestock products such as eggs, hides, and skin accounting for the remaining 30 percent.

Fisheries provide a vital source of food and valuable economic contributions to the local communities involved in fishery activities along Tanzania's 1,424 km coastline and numerous islands. The industry employs over 4,000,000 people engaged in fisheries and related activities, with over 400,000 fisheries operators directly employed. Small-scale artisanal fisheries account for the majority of fish catch produced by fisher folk in the country, operating in shallow waters along the continental shelf, using traditional fishing vessels such as small boats, dhows, canoes, outrigger canoes, and dinghies.

Destructive fishing methods, such as dragnets and dynamite fishing, are a major concern because they destroy important habitats for fish and other organisms, and there is a long-term trend of overharvesting of fishery resources. Youth unemployment, climate change, infrastructure bottlenecks, improving the business environment, improving service delivery to build a healthy and skilled workforce, and urbanization management are among the other development challenges.