Focused on Growth: Rice Production in Tanzania


SEATTLE — Tanzania’s Government launched the Expanding Rice Production Project (ERPP) on March 12, 2015, in an effort to boost rice production, increase food security and strengthen the country’s agricultural sector. The project commenced in Morogoro, Tanzania’s mainland and Zanzibar, thanks to the government’s partnership with the Global Agriculture Food and Security Program. The ERPP is specifically focused on improving agricultural practices for small-scale farmers and farms run by women.

Effect on Income

Tanzania’s agricultural sector makes up 25 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 75 percent of the population. Since its launch, the ERPP has improved rice productivity and irrigation systems, as well as linked small farmers to markets to sell their produce. The increase in income has come through the sustainable seed systems implemented and the improvements in production technology. Because of the ERPP, farmers learned a new farming technique called System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which increased rice productivity by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients. In mainland Tanzania, the average number of farmers producing rice paddies rose from 1.8 percent in January 2014 to 5.4 percent as of May 24, 2019 thanks to this program.

Effect on Food Security

The Expanding Rice Production Project has made an impact on food security by quickly and effectively increasing rice production in Tanzania. More than 13,000 people had benefited from the program as of December of 2017 with rice farmers tripling production.

Effect of/on Women

Out of the 13,369 people who have benefited from Tanzania’s Expanding Rice Production Project, 36 percent were women. Across Africa as a whole, women make up about 60 percent of the agricultural workforce and Tanzania is no exception. Many of the small farms in the country are run by women, most of whom have adapted the ERPP. Prior to participating in the program, despite being deeply involved in agricultural work, many women had limited access to production technology. As a result, this limited the potential growth of the sector. But, since the Expanding Rice Production Project introduced new technologies, women have been more actively involved in the agricultural field and their families have benefitted from raised standards of living.

Effect on Poverty

The overarching goal of focusing on bolstering rice production in Tanzania is to reduce long-term poverty. This is achievable through the new agricultural technologies that have been implemented in the country, as well as the new connections to global markets. By strengthening agriculture, and increasing food security, smallholder farmers will have less of a risk of falling back into poverty because fluctuation in food prices will decrease.

Tanzania’s Expanding Rice Production Project is expected to help 165,345 people by the end of the program in late April 2020.